Get on board: Businesses bosses and politicians call for Robin Hood Line extension

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Politicians have joined business bosses in a plea for a new commuter rail link into Mansfield - which they say would transform the area’s economy.

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer has called for the Robin Hood Line to be extended from Mansfield to Edwinstowe and New Ollerton during a ministerial visit to the area.

Under the plans, which are being backed by business leaders, existing freight railway lines which already connect the Dukeries area with Mansfield and Nottingham would be upgraded to take passengers.

The demand follows similar calls from local politicians who say the move would also boost tourism in north

Nottinghamshire.

Mr Spencer, who made the call during a visit to Sherwood by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Claire Perry MP, told Chad that the idea would bring huge economic benefits to the area.

Mark Spencer MP.

Mark Spencer MP.

He said: “If we can create a rail service on the line that already exists between Ollerton, Edwinstowe, Mansfield and Nottingham this would bring huge benefits in terms of jobs and investment to the area.

“As well as allowing an easy public transport route to Center Parcs, it would also allow people in Ollerton and Edwinstowe who do not drive the opportunity to work in Nottingham or Mansfield.

“The line itself is currently used for freight and driver training so what is needed is rolling stock and investment into new stations.”

Earlier this year, Chad reported how local councillors launched ambitious proposals to run a passenger rail service through Warsop for the first time in nearly 60 years, and has become the centrepiece of the parish council’s ‘neighbourhood plan’

George Cowcher Chamber of commerce

George Cowcher Chamber of commerce

A spokesman for Mr Spencer said it is hoped that rolling stock could be provided through trains and carriages becoming available as other lines are electrified elsewhere in the country.

Leonie Mathers, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Sherwood is also backing the call and has launched a petition for residents.

She said: “The Labour team in Edwinstowe and Ollerton have been working hard to get together a proposal for the extension of the Robin Hood Line, and it’s great to have Mark Spencer show his support.

“I’m urging people to show the strength of feeling in the area by signing up at www.robinhoodline.co.uk”

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero also backed the call.

She said: “Public transport is vital for keeping local communities and families connected, particularly in semi-rural areas like Ashfield and further afield such as neighbouring Edwinstowe and Ollerton.

“The Robin Hood Line is already a lifeline for many of my constituents who use the Kirkby and Sutton stations regularly to get to work, shop or visit friends and loved ones and I’m sure an extension would welcomed by local folk, businesses and tourism chiefs alike.”

The prospect of re-opening the line was also proposed by Mansfield District Council to the county council’s transport and highways committee in 2012, but was not selected as an approved scheme by the Local Transport Body.

Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton said: “Re-establishing the Dukeries Line going out to Edwinstowe and Ollerton from Shirebrook and Warsop is one of our priorities now when it comes to rail travel. It would help significantly with transport to major tourism destinations of the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre and the Center Parcs complex.”

George Cowcher, chief executive for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce said the line extension would also help boost tourism around the Mansfield area.

“The Chamber would welcome the extension of the Robin Hood Line out to Ollerton, which would ensure further connectivity between the northern part of Nottinghamshire and the rest of the county,” he said.

“In general, anything which can be done to upgrade and improve existing transport infrastructure is a good thing and in this case, there are clear benefits to be gained from opening up further transport links to commuters and boosting access to a part of Nottinghamshire which is home to Sherwood Forest and the legend of Robin Hood, a key driver of the region’s visitor economy.”

The Robin Hood Line is operated by East Midlands Trains, and currently runs services between Worksop and Nottingham through Mansfield, Sutton, Kirkby, Mansfield Woodhouse, Shirebrook and Langwith.

Warsop had a passenger service which ran from 1897 to 1955, running infrequent trains to Mansfield, Shirebrook, Nottingham, Chesterfield and even Lincoln.

The line was closed to passenger services in September 1955, though summer holiday excursions to and from the East Coast continued to call until September 1964.

The lines were still used to transport coal from Welbeck Colliery up until its closure in 2010.

But Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale has said that the proposal is unlikely to come to fruition in the current economic climate.

He said: “It’s a very nice idea but there’s not much chance of it occurring as the costs would be very high.

“It’s currently being used by freight trains and the whole line would need to be completely refurbished, which may not be possible in the current economic climate.

“However, it does emphasise the need people have in these areas for better public transport.”

PICTURED: A Robin Hood Line train leaving Mansfield Station and (from top) Leonie Mathers, Mark Spencer MP and George Cowcher.