Mark Fletcher column: Integrated Rail Plan will be great news for people in Bolsover constituency
The recent announcement of the Integrated Rail Plan is great news for the Bolsover constituency as we benefit from four major announcements.
The decision to not deliver the Eastern Leg of HS2 in full will be welcomed by many and the electrification of the Midland Mainline will deliver quicker train services for residents using Chesterfield Station.
The Government also announced its commitment to the Robin Hood Line extension and the reopening of the Maid Marian Line.
I have been campaigning for these four projects since being elected in 2019, including meeting with Ministers, publishing local surveys, and working with local authorities, so I very much welcome these announcements, which will bring enormous socio-economic benefits to thousands of residents.
In the Bolsover constituency, the proposed route for HS2 snaked around the M1 several times causing untold delay and disruption for my residents.
Plans for major infrastructure projects, such as improvements to junction 29 of the M1, could not be finalised due to the uncertainty caused from HS2. And communities would have been devastated by the proposed route.
But for what benefit? It seemed to me that we were suffering all the pain of HS2 without any gains. The project would not have been delivered for another 20 years and I have long argued for the money to be spent on local transport projects.
These announcements are a more localised approach to transport with direct investment into the constituency and the wider East Midlands worth over £10billion.
The focus is on quick delivery of projects which will greatly benefit productivity, connectivity, and improve people’s everyday lives by ensuring opportunities for economic development and prosperity are shared equally across the United Kingdom.
There will be the full electrification of the Midland Mainline from London St Pancras to Sheffield - meaning quicker services for residents catching trains at Chesterfield Station, without the extortionate cost or devastating impact on villages associated with HS2.
The extension of the Robin Hood Line from Shirebrook to Ollerton via Warsop and Edwinstowe means greater connectivity across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
And the reopening of the Maid Marian Line to passenger services has the potential for a new station to serve the communities of Pinxton, and Selston, in neighbouring Ashfield.
Both of these projects are subject to a successful full business case being submitted by the local authorities, but I look forward to working with my colleagues Ben Bradley MP (Mansfield), Lee Anderson MP (Ashfield), and Mark Spencer MP (Sherwood) to get these proposals over the line.
These projects will greatly improve the life chances of residents living in Pinxton and in villages in the east of my constituency by delivering much needed connectivity for employment, education, training, healthcare and leisure.
This investment will help to transform our rail network, improve public transport, and turbocharge the local economy, whilst protecting our beautiful constituency from the devastating effects of HS2.
Ultimately, this decision shifts power from London and cities, to towns and rural communities.
For many in my constituency this news is levelling-up in action.