Concerns over rail promises for Warsop, Ollerton and Ashfield in IRP

Councillors in Nottinghamshire have called for a guarantee two major rail projects will receive Government investment following ‘uncertainty’ over the Integrated Rail Plan.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:32 pm

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the plan to the Commons last week, outlining scaled back and altered proposals to high-speed and regional rail travel in England.

Part of the announcement included plans to explore and ‘exploit’ proposals to reopen the Maid Marian Line and to extend the Robin Hood Line into remote areas.

However, several politicians had believed the Government would announce a full commitment to the plans – despite Mr Shapps saying there is “much more work to do … to bring them to life”.

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The railway line through Warsop could be reopened to passengers as an extension of the Robin Hood Line.

If the plans went ahead, the Maid Marian Line would reopen to passengers for the first time since its closure during the 1960s Beeching Cuts.

The line would be used to connect Kirkby with Selston, Pinxton and eventually Toton, where a new railway station is planned as a replacement for the HS2 hub. This will now be based at East Midlands Parkway.

The Maid Marian Line would connect with the Robin Hood Line between Nottingham and Worksop, via Mansfield and Ashfield – extended to Warsop, Ollerton and Edwinstowe under the plans – to offer connectivity to the high-speed hub and the new Toton station.

However, at today’s full council meeting, some councillors were concerned over the Government’s wording of the promise.

The Robin Hood Line links Nottingham and Worksop, via Newstead, Kirkby, Sutton Parkway, Mansfield, Mansfield Woodhouse and Shirebrook.

Coun Mike Pringle, who represents Ollerton, said: “The fact last week’s IRP announcement did not guarantee the funding for local rail projects, namely the Maid Marian Line and Robin Hood Line, is deeply concerning to me.

“My residents in Ollerton need that connectivity and frankly, after years of under-investment, we deserve it.

“I’m going to be like a dog with a bone on this. That infrastructure is essential to achieving the council’s 10-year vision and to growing our economy.”

Coun David Martin, who represents Selston, said: “The benefits for Nottinghamshire would be huge, from Worksop through to Mansfield, Sutton, Kirkby and Selston.

“Connectivity is all we need and certainty it will go ahead. It’s barely mentioned in the IRP, but all our MPs are saying it is.

“All we’re asking for is support and clarity.”

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Coun Ben Bradley, council leader and Mansfield MP, suggested the Government will commit to both proposals.

He said: “Those IRP projects were named in the document, the Maid Marian Line and the Robin Hood Line, and Michael Gove has given assurances projects named will be funded and delivered.

“The Treasury has an envelope of funding it gives to the IRP and we will be pushing to ensure they are funded.

“It’s worth saying that, outside Nottinghamshire, there were very few projects named in that document and that’s not a coincidence.”

In the IRP, there was not a firm commitment from the Government that both projects will be funded.

The IRP states the Government will explore proposals for both lines.

The document said: “We will look to exploit any linkages with other investment in Nottinghamshire, including integrating plans for Toton and proposals for reopening and extending the Maid Marian and Robin Hood lines.”

In the Commons, Mr Shapps told Coun Bradley: “There is much more work to do, of course, to bring them to life.”

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