Plans have been scrapped to electrify railway routes in Leicestershire

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A decision to scrap plans to electrify Midland Mainline railway routes in this region could damage the local economy, critics have claimed.

Passengers were promised quicker journey times and more environmentally-friendly trains as a result of the electrification scheme.

But the government has announced it will no longer be electricfying the line through cities such as Leicester, Nottingham and Derby and will instead look into using bi-mode trains, capable of switching from electrified and non-electrified sections of track.

The Midland Mainline does not go through Melton but passengers from the town station use the network when travelling to the main East Midlands cities.

Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said: “Whilst we accept that the government must deliver their plans within a budget and this means some investments will have to be delayed, we are extremely concerned that electrification works between Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield are seen as being no longer needed.

“Full electrification of the Midland Mainline is essential to deliver on the aspiration to integrate it with the HS2 network so that the full benefits of HS2 can be realised across the Midlands.

“We are striving to deliver a £70 million boost to the economy through our rail strategy – and we must pursue this for the benefit of Leicestershire residents and businesses.

“We will be liaising with our MPs to ensure the government’s promises on this are delivered in the longer term.”

The decision not to electrify the region’s Midland Mainline tracks was also criticised by East Midlands Chamber of Trade.

Scott Knowles, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “Not that long ago we were told the Midland Main Line would be electrified all the way to Sheffield.

“This would improve services because electric trains accelerate and brake more efficiently than heavier diesels and the enhanced operation would give scope for more services to run.

“Then electrification was paused because of the cost, then “unpaused”, but now seems to be off the table altogether beyond Kettering.

“The ‘bi-mode’ trains that the government now appears to favour will be heavier than existing stock because they have two powertrains, accelerate more slowly and take longer to stop.

“They’ll also have to stop for longer at Kettering as they switch from one power source to the other, so we will have a worse service than now.”

Mr Knowles added: “In the East Midlands we make more than anywhere else in the country, we have the strongest economy and lowest unemployment outside London and the South East.

“We have a very strong central location and we need and deserve the best possible connectivity, not just on north-south routes but also east-west.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling says the government is making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian age.

More seats would be made available and better on-board facilities provided, he said, and passengers would be spared the disruption to services that the electrification scheme would have caused.