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Midland Main Line

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Title: Midland Main Line  
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Subject: Great Central Main Line, Leicester railway station, St Pancras railway station, Midland Mainline, Thameslink
Collection: Main Inter-Regional Railway Lines in Great Britain, Rail Transport in Bedfordshire, Rail Transport in Derby, Rail Transport in Derbyshire, Rail Transport in Hertfordshire, Rail Transport in Leicestershire, Rail Transport in Northamptonshire, Rail Transport in Nottinghamshire, Rail Transport in South Yorkshire, Rail Transport in West Yorkshire, Railway Lines in London, Railway Lines in the East Midlands, Railway Lines in Yorkshire and the Humber, Standard Gauge Railways in England, Transport in Barnet, Transport in Camden
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Midland Main Line

Midland Main Line
Type Inter City, Commuter rail,
Regional rail and Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
East of England
East Midlands
Yorkshire and the Humber
Termini London St. Pancras International
Sheffield or Nottingham
Stations 35 (up to Sheffield)
Opened Stages between 1830s-1860s
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) East Midlands Trains
First TransPennine Express
Northern Rail
GB Railfreight
DB Schenker
Direct Rail Services
Depot(s) Cricklewood
Derby Etches Park
Nottingham Eastcroft
Sheffield Station
Neville Hill
Rolling stock Class 43/HST
Class 150 Sprinter
Class 153 Super Sprinter
Class 156 Super Sprinter
Class 158 Express Sprinter
Class 170 Turbostar
Class 185 Desiro
Class 220 Voyager
Class 221 Super Voyager
Class 222 Meridian
Class 319
Class 377 Electrostar
Class 387 Electrostar
No. of tracks 2–4
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Loading gauge W6-W8[1]
Electrification Mk3b 25kV 50Hz AC (South of Bedford)
Operating speed 125 mph (201 km/h) Max Speed

The Midland Main Line is a major railway in England from London's St. Pancras station to Sheffield, via Luton and Bedford in the East of England, and Kettering, Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Derby/Nottingham and Chesterfield in the East Midlands.

Since the closure of the rival Great Central Main Line in the 1960s, the Midland has been the only direct main-line rail link between London and the East Midlands and parts of South Yorkshire.

In January 2009 a new station, East Midlands Parkway, was opened between Loughborough and Trent Junction, as a park-and-ride station for suburban residents of East Midlands cities and to serve nearby East Midlands Airport.

Express passenger services on the line are operated by East Midlands Trains. The section between St Pancras and Bedford is electrified and forms the northern half of Thameslink (mainly operated by Thameslink and Great Northern), with a fast service to Brighton and other suburban services.

A northern part of the route, between Derby and Sheffield, also forms part of the Cross Country Route to Bristol and in summer, South West tourist resorts, operated by CrossCountry. Tracks from Nottingham to Leeds via Barnsley and Sheffield are shared with Northern. TransPennine Express operate through Sheffield. East Midlands Local also operates regional and local services using parts of the line.

Historically the line had an extension through Leeds in the near North East to Carlisle, and by agreement with other line developers ran to Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. The East and West Coast Main Lines' faster and more direct services to Scotland caused these services to be lost. Later, overhead electrification of the West Coast Main Line and the Beeching cuts saw the marginally longer London-Manchester service via Sheffield ceasing. A straight railway from Derby to Manchester was thwarted in 1863 by the builders of the Buxton Line who sought to monopolise on the West Coast Main Line. The line retains connections to the Peak District via the Hope Valley Line.


  • History 1
  • Corollary lines 2
  • Accidents 3
  • Operators 4
    • East Midlands Trains 4.1
    • Thameslink 4.2
    • CrossCountry and Northern Rail 4.3
  • Route definition and description 5
    • London to Nottingham and Sheffield (Network Rail Route 19) 5.1
    • Ambergate Junction to Manchester 5.2
    • Leeds to Carlisle 5.3
  • Former stations 6
  • Upgrade works in the 2010s 7
    • Network Rail's plans 7.1
    • Electrification 7.2
    • Growth 7.3
      • 2010 Route plan 7.3.1
    • Route Utilisation Strategies 7.4
      • Freight utilisation strategy 7.4.1
      • Thameslink Programme 7.4.2
      • Route Utilisation Strategy 7.4.3
    • Stations 7.5
  • See also 8
  • Notes and references 9
  • External links 10


Overview of the Midland Main Line in green. In relation to other north-south main lines
British Rail APT-E built at Derby rail technical centre and extensively tested on the Midland Main Line its first run being on 25 July 1972 from Derby to Duffield

The Midland Main Line was built in stages between the 1830s and the 1870s, originating in three lines which met at the Tri Junct Station in Derby, which became the Midland Railway.

First to arrive was the line built by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway from Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire[n 1] to Derby, which opened on 12 August 1839. This route presents the Cross-Country Route through Birmingham to Bristol.

Derby was supplemented on 1 July 1840 by the North Midland Railway to Leeds Hunslet Lane via Chesterfield, Rotherham Masborough[n 2], Swinton and Normanton. This avoided Sheffield, Barnsley, and Wakefield to reduce gradients.

On the same day the Midland Counties Railway, which also already ran from Nottingham to Leicester, was extended to a temporary station on the northern outskirts of Rugby, Warwickshire. A few months later, the Rugby viaduct was finished so as to reach the London and Birmingham Railway's Rugby station. This cut 11 miles (18 km) off the existing Birmingham route via Hampton-in-Arden.

When these three companies merged to form the Midland Railway on 10 May 1844, the Midland did not have its own route to London, and relied upon a junction at Rugby with the London and Birmingham's line (which became part of the London and North Western Railway on 1 January 1846) to London Euston for access to the capital.

Own Southern Section

By the 1850s the junction at Rugby had become severely congested so the Midland Railway constructed a direct route from Leicester to Hitchin via Bedford.[2] giving access to London via the Great Northern Railway from Hitchin. The line avoids Northampton, instead going via Kettering and Wellingborough in the east of Northamptonshire. This line met with similar problems at Hitchin as the former alignment had at Rugby, so in 1868 a line was opened from Bedford via Luton to St Pancras,[3] which became known as the Bedpan line and is now part of Thameslink extending to Brighton.

Northernmost Sections

The final stretch of what is considered to be the modern Midland Main Line was a relatively short Sheffield by-pass which was opened in 1870.

The mid-1870s saw the Midland line extended northwards through the Yorkshire Dales and Eden Valley on what is now solely called the Settle-Carlisle Railway, considered an independent route and not part of the present-day Midland Main Line, although included in its diagram shown to the top right.

Before the line closures of the Beeching era, the lines to Buxton and via Millers Dale during most years presented an alternate (and competing) main line from London to Manchester, carrying named expresses such as The Palatine. Express trains to Leeds and Scotland such as the Thames-Clyde Express mainly used the Midland's corollary Erewash Valley Line, returned to it then used the Settle and Carlisle Line. Expresses to Edinburgh Waverley, such as The Waverley travelled through Corby and Nottingham.

Partly to appease the concerns and opposition of landowners along the route, in places some of it was built to avoid large estates and rural towns, and to reduce construction costs the railways followed natural contours, resulting in many curves and bends. This has also resulted in the MML passing through some relatively hilly areas, such as Sharnbrook (where there is a 1 in 119 gradient from the south taking the line to 340 feet (100 m) above sea level). This has left a legacy of lower maximum speeds on the line compared with other main lines. The response to a similar situation on the West Coast Main Line has been the adoption of tilting trains, but there has been no proposal for such a solution on the Midland line.

Most Leicester-Nottingham local passenger trains were taken over by diesel units from 14 April 1958, taking about 51 minutes between the two cities.[4]

In 1977 the Parliamentary Select Committee on Nationalised Industries recommended considering electrification of more of Britain's rail network, and by 1979 BR presented a range of options that included electrifying the Midland Main Line from London to Yorkshire by 2000.[5] By 1983 the line had been electrified from Moorgate to Bedford, but proposals to continue electrification to Nottingham and Sheffield have not been implemented.

A Midland Mainline High Speed Train at Nottingham in 2005 introduced in 1983 by British Rail

The introduction of the High Speed Train (HST) in May 1983 following the Leicester area resignalling brought about an increase of the ruling line speed on the fast lines from 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h).

Between 2001 and 2003 the line between Derby and Sheffield was upgraded from 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) as part of Operation Princess, the Virgin-funded CrossCountry route upgrade.

In January 2009 a new station, East Midlands Parkway, was opened between Loughborough and Trent Junction, to act as a park-and-ride station for suburban travellers from East Midlands cities and to serve nearby East Midlands Airport.[6]

Most recently 125 miles per hour (201 km/h) running has been introduced on extended stretches. Improved signalling, increased number of tracks and the revival of proposals to extend electrification from Bedford to Sheffield are underway. Much of this £70 million upgrade, including some line speed increases, came online on 9 December 2013[7] (see below).

Corollary lines

Also part of the line, as defined by Network Rail,[8] are the:



East Midlands Trains

Former First Capital Connect Class 377 Unit 504 at St Albans City

The principal operator is East Midlands Trains, which replaced Midland Mainline on 11 November 2007. East Midlands Trains operates 5 InterCity trains every hour on the MML from London St Pancras with two trains per hour to Nottingham and Sheffield and one train per hour to Corby. There are also limited services to Scarborough/York, Leeds, Melton Mowbray and Lincoln and additional services to Derby and Kettering. The former operator, Midland Mainline also ran limited services to Matlock, Burton-on-Trent and Barnsley. EMT uses a modern Class 222 Meridian trains in various carriage formations for most of its InterCity services. Older 8 carriage HST are used for its Nottingham fast service as well as its Leeds services. East Midlands Trains are proposing to run new St Pancras to Skegness services.

Additionally, East Midlands Trains runs rural services between Leicester and Nottingham to Lincoln and Nottingham and Ambergate to Matlock, while also running Regional Express services between Nottingham and Sheffield as part of its Norwich to Liverpool route.


Thameslink provides frequent, 24 hour[9] commuter services south of Bedford under the name of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) as part of its Thameslink route to London Bridge, Gatwick Airport, Brighton and Sutton. Using 4 car electric Class 319, Class 377 Electrostar and Class 387 Electrostar trains which can be coupled into 8 and 12 car formations.

CrossCountry and Northern Rail

CrossCountry runs half hourly services to between Derby and Sheffield. Trains carry on to Birmingham, Plymouth, Bournemouth, Doncaster/Leeds and Scotland. They also provide hourly services between Nottingham and Derby to Birmingham and Cardiff. Northern Rail runs an hourly service to Leeds from Nottingham via Alferton and Barnsley.

Other operators include:

Route definition and description

The Victorian London St Pancras terminus opened on 1 October 1868
Wellingborough station
Modular design Corby station opened in 2009
Leicester station
East Midlands Parkway station opened in 2007
Nottingham station
Chesterfield station
Sheffield station

The cities, towns and villages currently served by the MML are listed below. Stations in bold have a high usage. This table includes the historical extensions to Manchester (where it linked to the West Coast Main Line) and Carlisle (via Leeds where it meets with the 'modern' East Coast Main Line).

Network Rail group all lines in the East Midlands and the route north as far as Chesterfield and south to London as route 19. The actual line extends beyond this into routes 10 and 11.

London to Nottingham and Sheffield (Network Rail Route 19)

Station Village/town/city and county Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Year opened Step free access No. of platforms Usage 2012/13
Branches and loops
London St Pancras St Pancras, London 1868 15 24.298 High Speed 1 diverges north of St Pancras
Kentish Town Kentish Town, London 1868 4 1.695 Branch from to Gospel Oak to Barking Line north of station
West Hampstead Thameslink West Hampstead, London 1871 4 2.817
Cricklewood Cricklewood, London 1868 4 1.080 Dudding Hill Line diverges north of Cricklewood
Hendon Hendon, London 1868 4 0.983 Dudding Hill Line diverges south of Hendon
Mill Hill Broadway Mill Hill, London grid reference 1868 4 2.040
Elstree & Borehamwood Borehamwood, Hertfordshire 1868 4 3.234
Radlett Radlett, Hertfordshire grid reference 1868 4 1.110
St Albans City St Albans, Hertfordshire grid reference 1868 4 6.888
Harpenden Harpenden, Hertfordshire grid reference 1868 4 2.095
Luton Airport Parkway Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference 1999 4 2.508
Luton Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference 1868 5 3.444
Leagrave Leagrave, Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference 1868 4 1.757
Harlington Harlington, Bedfordshire grid reference 1868 4 0.320
Flitwick Flitwick, Bedforshire grid reference 1870 4 1.319
Bedford Midland Bedford, Bedfordshire grid reference 1859 5 3.303 Marston Vale Line diverges south of Bedford
Wellingborough Wellingborough, Northamptonshire grid reference 1857 3 0.929
Kettering Kettering, Northamptonshire grid reference 1857 4 1.019 Oakham to Kettering Line diverges north of Kettering at Glendon Jun
via Corby & diversion route
Corby Corby, Northamptonshire grid reference 2009 1 0.233 Oakham to Kettering Line
Oakham Oakham, Rutland grid reference 1848 2 0.204 Birmingham to Peterborough Line
Melton Mowbray Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire grid reference 1848 2 0.233
Main Line via Market Harborough
Market Harborough Market Harborough, Leicestershire grid reference 1850 2 0.764
Leicester Leicester, Leicestershire grid reference 1840 4 4.797 Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges south of Leicester at Wigston Junction
Syston Syston, Leicestershire grid reference 1994 1 0.016 Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges north of Syston
Sileby Sileby, Leicestershire grid reference 1994 2 0.099
Barrow-upon-Soar Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire grid reference 1994 2 0.079
Loughborough Loughborough, Leicestershire grid reference 1872 3 1.246
East Midlands Parkway Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire (for East Midlands Airport) grid reference 2007 4 0.284 Trent Junction to Clay Cross Junction via Derby (the original line), the Nottingham branch, and the Erewash Valley Line each diverge north of East Midlands Parkway
Via Derby
Long Eaton Long Eaton, Derbyshire grid reference 1888 2 0.585 Cord south of Long Eaton to the Nottingham branch
Spondon Spondon, Derby, Derbyshire grid reference 1839 2 0.020
Derby Midland Derby, Derbyshire grid reference 1839 6 3.366 Cross Country Route and Crewe to Derby Line diverges south of Derby
Duffield Duffield, Derbyshire grid reference 1841 3 0.055
Belper Belper, Derbyshire grid reference 1840 2 0.177
Ambergate Ambergate, Derbyshire grid reference 1840 1 0.038 Derwent Valley Line diverges at Ambergate Junction
Via Nottingham
Attenborough Attenborough, Nottinghamshire grid reference 1856 2 0.089
Beeston Beeston, Nottinghamshire grid reference 1839 2 0.546
Nottingham Midland Nottingham, Nottinghamshire grid reference 1904 6 6.451 Northbound trains for the north reverse towards Langley Mill. Other continue onto
the Robin Hood Line, Nottingham to Grantham or Lincoln Lines
Via Erewash Valley (bypassing or calling at Nottingham)
Langley Mill Langley Mill, Derbyshire grid reference 1847 2 0.095 Erewash Valley and Trent Nottingham Lines rejoin together south of Langley Mill.
Alfreton Alfreton, Derbyshire grid reference 1862 2 0.225
Clay Cross Junction to Leeds
Chesterfield Chesterfield, Derbyshire grid reference 1840 3 1.499 Trent Junction to Clay Cross via Derby and Erewash Valley Lines rejoin together south of Chesterfield.
Dronfield Dronfield, Derbyshire grid reference 1981 2 0.160 Hope Valley Line diverges north of Dronfield
Sheffield Midland Sheffield, South Yorkshire grid reference 1870 9 8.615 Hope Valley Line diverges south of Sheffield
Sheffield to Lincoln Line diverges north of Sheffield
Meadowhall Interchange Sheffield, South Yorkshire grid reference 1990 4 NR 2.125 Hallam and Penistone Lines diverges at Meadowhall
Via Doncaster
Doncaster Doncaster, South Yorkshire grid reference 1838 8 3.835 Connects to the East Coast Main Line south of Doncaster
Bypassing Doncaster
Wakefield Westgate Wakefield, West Yorkshire grid reference 1867 2 2.267 Connects with the East Coast Main Line south of Wakefield Westgate
Leeds City Leeds, West Yorkshire grid reference 1938 17 26.201 Leeds City Lines
A Midland Mainline High Speed Train emerging from Milford Tunnel.
Tunnel Stations between
Camden Road Tunnel St Pancras and Kentish Town
Hampstead Tunnel Kentish Town and West Hampstead
Lismore Circus Tunnel Kentish Town and West Hampstead
Belsize Tunnel Kentish Town and West Hampstead
Elstree Tunnel Mill Hill Broadway and Elstree & Borehamwood
Ampthill Tunnel Flitwick and Bedford
Sharnbrook Tunnel (Freight Line only) Bedford and Wellingborough
Knighton Tunnel Market Harborough and Leicester
Red Hill Tunnel East Midlands Parkway and Long Eaton / Trent Junction
Milford Tunnel Duffield and Belper
Toadmoor Tunnel Belper and Chesterfield
Wingfield Tunnel Belper and Chesterfield
Alfreton Tunnel Langley Mill and Alfreton
Clay Cross Tunnel Belper and Clay Cross
Broomhouse Tunnel (Opened out to cutting 1969) Sheepbridge and Unstone
Bradway Tunnel Dronfield and Dore

Ambergate Junction to Manchester

For marketing and franchising, this is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway

The line was once the Midland Railway's route from London St Pancras to Manchester, branching at Ambergate Junction along the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway, now known as the Derwent Valley Line. In days gone by, it featured named expresses such as The Palatine. Much later in the twentieth century, it carried the Midland Pullman.

Town/City Station Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Ambergate Ambergate
Whatstandwell Whatstandwell
Cromford Cromford
Matlock Bath Matlock Bath
Matlock Matlock
Closed Section Stations
Darley Dale Darley Dale
Rowsley Rowsley
Bakewell Bakewell
Hassop Hassop
Great Longstone Great Longstone for Ashford
Monsal Dale Monsal Dale
Millers Dale Millers Dale
Blackwell Mill Blackwell Mill
Buxton Buxton
Peak Forest Peak Forest
Chapel-en-le-Frith Chapel-en-le-Frith Central
Now part of the Hope Valley Line or other lines
Chinley Chinley
Bugsworth Buxworth (Now Closed)
New Mills New Mills Central
Strines Strines
Marple Marple
Romiley Romiley
Bredbury Bredbury
Brinnington Brinnington
Reddish Reddish North
Gorton Ryder Brow
Belle Vue/Gorton Belle Vue
Stockport Stockport Tiviot Dale
Manchester Manchester Central (Now Closed)
The complex network of road and rail around Ambergate Junction, formerly where Manchester expresses left the mainline

This line was closed in the 1960s between Matlock and Buxton, severing an important link between Manchester and the East Midlands, which has never been satisfactorily replaced by any mode of transport. A section of the route remains in the hands of the Peak Rail preservation group, operating between Matlock and Rowsley to the north.

Leeds to Carlisle

For marketing and franchising, this is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Settle-Carlisle Railway.

A geographical representation of the aborted Midland Main Line diversion through the West Riding, which would have put Bradford on a through line and provided a direct connection to Scotland. (Existing lines shown in black and the diversion in red).
Map showing the proposed Midland line into Bradford

World War I prevented the Midland Railway from finishing its direct route through the West Riding to join the Settle and Carlisle (which would have cut six miles from the journey and avoided the need for reversal at Leeds).

The first part of the Midland's West Riding extension from the main line at Royston (Yorks.) to Dewsbury was opened before the war. However, the second part of the extension was not completed. This involved a viaduct at Dewsbury over the River Calder, a tunnel under Dewsbury Moor and a new approach railway into Bradford from the south at a lower level than the existing railway (a good part of which was to be in tunnel) leading into Bradford Midland (or Bradford Forster Square) station.

The 500 yards (460 m) gap between the stations at Bradford still exists. Closing it today would also need to take into account the different levels between the two Bradford stations, a task made easier in the days of electric rather than steam traction, allowing for steeper gradients than possible at the time of the Midland's proposed extension.

Two impressive viaducts remain on the completed part of the line between Royston Junction and Dewsbury as a testament to the Midland's ambition to complete a third direct Anglo-Scottish route. The line served two goods stations and provided a route for occasional express passenger trains before its eventual closure in 1968.

The failure to complete this section ended the Midland's hopes of being a serious competitor on routes to Scotland and finally put beyond all doubt that Leeds, not Bradford, would be the West Riding's principal city. Midland trains to Scotland therefore continued to call at Leeds before travelling along the Aire Valley to the Settle and Carlisle. From Carlisle they then travelled onwards via either the Glasgow and South Western or Waverley route. In days gone by the line enjoyed named expresses such as the Thames-Clyde Express and The Waverley.

Former stations

As with most railway lines in Britain, the route used to serve far more stations than it currently does (and consequently passes close to settlements that it no longer serves). Places that the current mainline used to serve include

Looking south along the Midland Main Line at St. Albans.
The Erewash Valley Line, part of the Midland Main Line. Seen here at Stapleford.
British Rail High Speed Train near Chesterfield
Leeds railway station, a former key reversal point on the Midland Main Line on the route north

The following on the original North Midland Railway line

Upgrade works in the 2010s

Near Felmerham
Bridges over the Midland Main Line have been replaced to allow greater clearances for electrification and larger rolling stock. Before (top) and after (bottom) the 2014 upgrade.

Network Rail's plans

The Midland Main line has for many years been thought of as a 'Cinderella' line but, with the increasing capacity constraints on other lines, the route looks set to benefit from investment and enhancement. Plans for the line include:

  • Re-signalling of the entire route, expected to be complete by 2016 when all signalling will be controlled by the East Midlands signalling centre in Derby.[10]
  • Rebuilding Bedford, Leicester[11] and Nottingham stations, which would also involve an enhanced approach layout during re-signalling works.
  • Accessibility enhancements at Elstree & Borehamwood, Harpenden, Loughborough, Long Eaton, Luton and Wellingborough by 2015.[12]
  • Upgraded approach signalling (flashing yellow aspects) added at key junctions - Radlett, Harpenden and Leagrave allowing trains to traverse them at higher speeds.
  • Lengthening of platforms at Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Loughborough, Long Eaton and Beeston stations as well as work related to the Thameslink Programme (see below).
  • Realignment of the track and construction of new platforms to increase the permissible speed through Market Harborough station from 60 mph to 85 mph saving between 30 – 60 seconds.
  • Electrification (below)
  • Speeds of up to 125 mph between Elstree & Borehamwood and Ratcliffe Junction on the fast lines (December 2013 onwards) at a cost of £69.4m leading to an 8-minute reduction in the express London - Sheffield journey time and a 6-minute reduction for London - Nottingham journey times (London St Pancras - Sheffield LSI) on services operated by Class 222 DMUs.[13]
  • Re-doubling the Kettering to Oakham Line between Kettering North Junction and Corby as well as re-signalling to Syston Junction via Oakham. This will allow a half hourly London to Corby passenger service from December 2017 possibly using Class 387s, and will create additional paths for rail freight.[14][15]


Diesel Class 222 Meridian trains will no longer be needed for most services after electrification

Work to reconfigure the existing electrified section and to electrify most of the line was announced on 16 July 2012 for completion by 2020 at an expected cost of £800 million.[16] Despite significant electrification enabling work having already been completed, in June 2015 the Secretary of State for Transport (Patrick McLoughlin) announced that the electrification would be "paused".[17] On 30 September 2015, the Department for Transport announced the resumption of the work with revised completion dates of 2019 for Corby and Kettering and 2023 for the line further north to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.[18][19]

In January 2013, Network Rail announced that it was to be electrified at a cost of £500 million during Control Period 5 (April 2014 - March 2019).[20] It was planned that the Bedford to Corby section will be electrified by 2017, Kettering to Derby and Nottingham by 2019 and Derby to Sheffield by 2020.[21] Under those plans, Nottingham to Clay Cross via Alfreton was not to be electrified, nor Corby to Syston via Oakham (which acts as a diversion route during some track blockages).

Electrification could allow some Class 390 services to transfer to the MML from the West Coast Main Line and some InterCity 225 from the East Coast Main Line. For example: running services from St Pancras to Sheffield via Market Harborough and Derby, Derby via Market Harborough, Nottingham via Market Harborough, Kettering and Leicester could provide quicker journeys on the Midland Main Line and extra space for new direct services and other types of rolling stock on the West Coast Main Line and East Coast Main Line as well as some remaining Pendolino and InterCity 225 services. Services to Corby could also be run using Class 387. However, services from St Pancras to Leeds, York, Scarborough, Melton Mowbray, Sheffield via Nottingham and Alfreton and Derby via Melton Mowbray, would still have to utilise diesel Class 222 Meridian or Class 43/HST, because these routes are not planned to be electrified.

The electrification is part of the wider Electric Spine project to create an electrified route from the Port of Southampton to Sheffield and possibly Doncaster. The project will mean electrifying the Varsity Line (Bedford - Oxford), the Cherwell Valley/Great Western Main Lines (Oxford/Aynho Junction - Reading) and the Reading to Basingstoke Line. The South Western Main Line between Basingstoke and Southampton will be converted to overhead AC electrification from third rail DC power.[14]

Further possible electrification associated:[14]


Traffic levels on the Midland Main Line are rising faster than the national average, with continued increases predicted. The now-defunct Strategic Rail Authority produced a Route Utilisation Strategy for the Midland Main Line in 2006 to propose ways of meeting this demand;[22] Network Rail started a new study in February 2008 and this was published in February 2010.[23] [24][25][26] After electrification, the North Northamptonshire towns (Wellingborough, Kettering and Corby) are planned to have an additional 'Outer Suburban service' into London St. Pancras, similar to the London Midland's Crewe - London Euston services to cater for the growing commuter market. North Northamptonshire is a major growth area, with over 7,400 new homes planned to be built in Wellingborough[27] and 5,500 new homes planned for Kettering.[28] The service will be operated by new Class 387s.[29]

2010 Route plan

Network Rail's 2010 route plan for the Midland Main Line[30] stressed improving infrastructure to allow more and longer trains to operate in the future as more houses are built in Northamptonshire. Highlights include:

  • Work related to line speed increases, removing foot crossings and replacing with footbridges
  • Various capacity enhancements for freight

Route Utilisation Strategies

Freight utilisation strategy

Network Rail published a Route Utilisation Strategy for freight in 2007;[31] over the coming years a cross-country freight route will be developed enhancing the Birmingham to Peterborough Line, increasing capacity through Leicester, and remodelling Syston and Wigston junctions.

Thameslink Programme

New station building at West Hampstead Thameslink

The Thameslink Programme has seen all stations south of Bedford apart from St Pancras, Kentish Town, Crickelwood, Hendon, Luton Airport Parkway be lengthened to 12 car capabilities. West Hampstead Thameslink has had a new footbridge installed and a new station building constructed. After September 2014, the Thameslink Great Northern franchise, currently operated by Thameslink will be re-franchised. After July 2015 Southern services will be merged with it.

Route Utilisation Strategy

In the East Midlands Route Utilisation Strategy, Network Rail recommended the InterCity Express Programme trains, the Class 801 in 10 car formations for the InterCity services.[32] Two 775 metres (848 yd) freight loops south of Bedford and between Kettering and Leicester for longer and heavier freight services, additional infrastructure to accommodate additional freight and passenger train paths and also recommended an additional stop at Kettering for the semi-fast London-Sheffield service.


From 2013 to 2014 Nottingham station is being refurbished at a cost of £50 million, creating a better interchange with Trams and Taxis. A new platform canopy has been installed on platform 6 and the station frontage is being cleaned. A multi-storey car park has already been constructed. In summer 2013, the Nottingham station area had a month-long blockade. A new platform was constructed, 143 new signals were installed, track was replaced, junctions were simplified for higher speeds, four signal boxes were replaced by Derby signalling centre, two level crossings were renewed and two were replaced with footbridges[33][34]

As part of Wellingborough's Stanton Cross development, Wellingborough station is to be expanded, with an extra station building on a re-opened platform 4 as well as a 6 storey and a 3 storey car park.[35][36]

There are also new stations planned or proposed on the Midland Main Line.

Three stations are planned:

Stations proposed:

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ On the London and Birmingham Railway from Euston
  2. ^ Quickly the Sheffield and Rotherham Railway ran its branch line to Sheffield Wicker
  1. ^ "East Midlands RUS Loading Gauge" (PDF). Network Rail. p. 55. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "A Midland Railway chronology>Incorporation and expansion". The Midland Railway Society. 1998. 
  3. ^ "A Midland Railway chronology>London extension". The Midland Railway Society. 1998. 
  4. ^ Railway Magazine June 1958 p. 432
  5. ^ Anonymous (Winter 1979). Railway Electrification.  
  6. ^ "East Midlands Parkway - Our greenest station to open on 26 January". East Midlands Trains. 14 January 2009. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Route 19 Midland Main Line and East Midlands" (pdf). 
  9. ^ First Capital Connect: Thameslink Route Timetable B Retrieved 24 August 2013
  10. ^ "Secretary of State opens Network Rail control centre" (Press release). Network Rail. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  11. ^ "Plans for £150m station facelift". BBC News Online (London). 6 March 2008. 
  12. ^  
  13. ^ "CP4 Delivery Plan 2010, Enhancements programme: statement of scope, outputs, and milestones." (PDF). Network Rail. September 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c Rail Magazine Issue 742, 19 February – 4 March, Pages 69-75
  15. ^ "Second Corby to Kettering railway track to be restored". BBC News Online (London). 6 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "Investing in rail, investing in jobs and growth" (Press release). Department for Transport. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  17. ^ "Today's House of Commons debates - Thursday 25 June 2015: Network Rail". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2015-06-25. 
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