Labour councillors demand to know if proposed plans for rail line serving Mansfield and Ashfield will actually happen?
Labour councillors at Nottinghamshire County Council are demanding more clarity about proposals for the Robin Hood Line – which serves Mansfield and Ashfield – and Maid Marian Line following last month’s Integrated Rail Plan announcement.
The last couple of weeks have witnessed a flurry of announcements relating to improved public transport for Nottinghamshire and train services have been the main focus, following the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) on November 18.
It was believed the IRP would include plans to re-open the Maid Marian Line and extend the Robin Hood Line.
However, the report stated the Government would merely ‘explore proposals for both lines in the hope of linking them to Toton and East Midlands Parkway’.
And it contained no guarantees at all that either project would be going ahead and this has caused concern among councillors, particularly those in representing areas directly affected by the proposals.
At last month’s meeting of the full Nottinghamshire County Council, Coun Mike Pringle (Lab), asked Coun Ben BradleyMP (Con), the council leader, to personally guarantee that services on the Maid Marian Line would be introduced and the Robin Hood Line would be extended to Ollerton.
Coun Bradley said he understood that this guarantee had been made by the fact that these two regional projects were both named in the report.
However, a further report, which went to the council’s policy committee on Thursday, December 2, states that the ‘proposals’ at this stage are to explore the extension of the Robin Hood Line.
But a Labour group spokesperson said: “Much of this exploratory work has already been extensively undertaken, such as in 2009 when the then Labour-led council undertook an initial feasibility study, and then again in 2016, again under Labour, when the scheme costs were estimated and the council’s leadership pressed the rail minister for the scheme to be adopted.”
Labour councillors are now calling for clarity once and for all on whether these rail projects will happen, and asking for an approximate timeline for completion.
Coun Pringle said: “At the policy committee today we’ll be looking for further clarity both to confirm that the Maid Marian and Robin Hood lines will go ahead as promised, but also around how long we can now expect to wait for these important local transport projects to get underway.
“We need to then have further conversations around ensuring that the cost of travel is affordable for our residents.
“No point having a service that people cannot afford to use, and for many lower income residents, who cannot afford to run a private vehicle, we need to be ensuring that taking the train is going to offer a viable option for them financially too.
“Also – in terms of having a main line station through Toton – can we have some decisions made there too, because residents have already had to endure so much uncertainty over these past few years.
“As I’ve said previously, I’m going to continue working to keep this front and centre, and make sure that our residents get what has been promised to them in terms of improved connectivity to access the best of Nottinghamshire.”