Express & Star

Government to look at Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury electrification 'as soon as possible'

An MP has been assured by a minister that the Government will look at electrifying the Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury railway line "as soon as possible".

FEATURES. Severn Bridge Junction signal box feature. Shrewsbury station viewed from the box.

Transport minister Trudy Harrison gave the assurance to Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski in a debate this week.

Mr Kawczynski told the Commons that the transport group Midlands Connect and the Department for Transport had been in talks for some time regarding the scheme.

"This is a very important line in the West Midlands," said Mr Kawczynski.

"Will she give me a commitment that she will look at that with a view to electrifying the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line as soon as possible?"

Mrs Harrison replied: "I can certainly give that commitment."

She said she was aware Mr Kawczynski had met with Wendy Morton, the rail minister, and that Midlands Connect was developing a business case for journey time improvements on the line connecting Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

"This will assess the enhancements required, the timescales for delivery and the costs and benefits of the scheme," she said.

Mrs Harrison said more than 1,221 miles of railway track had been electrified since 2010, compared with 63 in the 14 years before that.

"We continue to expand the electrified rail network," she said.

"For example, the integrated rail plan announcement confirmed that we will complete the electrification of the Midland main line and deliver full electrification and upgrade of the trans-Pennine main line."

The 30-mile stretch between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, which forms part of the West Coast 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 by 2040.

Last year Midlands Connect unveiled the proposals, which could potentially see a new hourly service linking Shropshire, the Black Country and Birmingham to London, with trains travelling at speeds of up to 90mph.

It is claimed this would increase capacity, slash journey times, boost local businesses and improve connectivity around the region. They claim upgrading the route will bring £377 million in time savings for passengers and £145m of environmental benefits.

The plans have been submitted to ministers and come after the Government announced a major shake-up of rail services under new state-owned body, Great British Railways.