MP to press minister for electrification of Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton railway line

Shropshire's political leaders are to meet transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris to lobby for the electrification of a major rail line through the county.

At the moment only diesel trains can use the Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton line
At the moment only diesel trains can use the Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton line

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has secured a meeting with the minister to make the case for the electrification of the railway line between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.

Earlier this month Network Rail, the state-owned company which manages Britain's railway lines, called for the route to be upgraded.

Shropshire Council's cabinet minister for transport, Councillor Steve Davenport, will also attend the meeting.

Mr Kawczynski said he would also be meeting officials from Network Rail in order to keep pressure on the Government.

"Network Rail has identified this stretch of the line as needing prioritisation in getting electrification," he said.

Mr Kawczynski said that as well as the obvious environmental benefits of having emission-free trains along the route, he said electrification would also boost the county's economy.

"At the moment, if you take the direct to train to London, it has to change engines at Birmingham because the line is not electrified," he says.

"There are clearly benefits of getting the latest rolling stock into Shrewsbury, and increasing the number of trains coming along the line."

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The 30-mile stretch, which forms part of the West Coast Main Line franchise, serves stations at Bilbrook, Codsall, Albrighton, Cosford, Shifnal, Oakengates, Telford and Wellington.

The need to upgrade the line was highlighted after Network Rail was asked by the Government to draw up plans to remove all diesel-only trains from the railways of England and Wales by 2040.

The plans, which propose that almost all non-electrified parts of the West Midlands rail network should be converted, will now be submitted to the Government for consideration as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review.

The blueprint has been welcomed by regional transport body Midlands Connect, which said it could potentially represent the biggest rail revolution in more than a century. The body, which includes 22 local authorities across the region, said the plans would improve the environment, make for a better service, and create skilled jobs in the region.

Maria Machancoses of Midland Connect said: “This welcome announcement by Network Rail could unleash a rail revolution in the Midlands not seen in a hundred years. It will create skilled jobs, help level up the economy and help the UK to meet its net-zero target. But not only that, passengers will see improved reliability and faster journeys.

"The historic report recommends the electrification of almost all the Midlands rail network over the next few decades.”

Paul McMahon, of Network Rail, said electrifying lines which currently relied on diesel trains was a logical way of reducing carbon emissions, given that they derive their power from nuclear power stations.

But he did not provide a timescale for when work on the line should be carried out, saying it would form part of a “long-term, stable and efficient programme of electrification which will last for at least 30 years, alongside the introduction of new technology”.

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