Nottingham city councillors are calling on the government to reverse its decision to scrap the electrification of the Midland Mainline in order to improve air quality in the city.
Plans had been in place to fully electrify the train line between Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, but were scrapped by the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in July 2017.
At the time the government said that it would instead explore the potential of using ‘bi mode’ rolling stock and ‘alternative technologies’ to achieve benefits similar to high speed electric trains.
However, according to the city council, electrification of the line would have reduced the number of diesel trains coming into the city centre every day.
As part of its activities to mark the second annual Clean Air Day last week (21 June), Nottingham council Leader Jon Collins urged Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to return electrification of the line to the table.
Councillor Sally Longford, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Environment, said: “We’ve talked a lot about the economic benefits of electrifying the Midland Mainline, but the environmental benefits are equally important.
“The health of our citizens is a top priority, and the harmful effects of air pollution are well known. We’re proud of the work we’ve been doing to address this; introducing greener transport, including one of the largest all-electric park and ride bus fleets in the country, and expanding our successful tram network, as well as investing in cycle infrastructure and ultra-low emission vehicles.
“But now we need the government to step up and fulfil its promise to electrify the Midland Mainline, especially as they increasingly talk about the importance of clean air and put pressure on councils to address air quality. They need to practise what they preach.
“Our monitoring shows significantly higher emissions of nitrogen dioxide in the vicinity of the station, compared to other heavily trafficked roads elsewhere in the city, and its evident dirty diesel trains are contributing to this.
“The new trains being proposed by the government – bi-mode trains – would continue to emit high levels of nitrogen dioxide into the city centre – an area of our city that the Government has already identified as having poor air quality. It’s simply not good enough.â€?