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Councillor leading the case for reopening Maid Marion Line

Wednesday 4 March

 

Anyone who knows me will tell you how passionate I am in my belief that affordable and sustainable transport options are key to unlocking social mobility.  That's why nearly two years ago, Ashfield District Council started making the case to reopen the Maid Marion Railway Line to passengers.  As the Council's Cabinet Member for Place, Planning and Regeneration, I am delighted to be leading the case to dramatically improve Ashfield's transport connectivity.  A state of the art, integrated transport system is key to jobs-driven regeneration.

 

In my view, reopening the Maid Marion Line is a no brainer.  It is currently open, but only handles freight trains.  According to estimates, reopening this line could see between 1.1 and 1.4 million rail journeys a year. It is expected the reopening would mean passengers from Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Sutton Parkway could get to the new Toton station less than 35 minutes.  This would cut the current time to access HS2 in half.

 

This is why I am pleased that our Council is undertaking a huge consultation on the future of the Maid Marion line. 

 

As part of our ambitious plans, we are looking to make improvements to our existing railway stations - Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Sutton Parkway.  In this day and age - it is wrong that both stations are not disabled friendly.  Kirkby-in-Ashfield especially is completely inaccessible and that is not acceptable! The extremely long waiting times at the Sutton Junction level crossing are also completely unacceptable and something I continue to challenge Network Rail and East Midlands Railways over!

 

Ashfield and Mansfield District Councils jointly commissioned services to understand the economic, social and environmental benefits of linking four existing train stations Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Mansfield, Mansfield Woodhouse and Sutton Parkway to the proposed HS2 station at Toton.  There's no getting away from the fact that HS2 provides massive opportunities for the East Midlands.

 

Our region has always been a poor relation when it comes to public transport investment.  Just look at the cancellation of the electrification of the Midland's Mainline.  The fact that this region has by far the lowest public transport spend, per head in Britain is a disgrace.  That's why we need to be prepared and we have spent two years doing so.

 

These are exciting times for Ashfield.  At Summit Park, there will be 1800 new jobs and we need to have the public transport infrastructure to cope. 

Since 2015, employment in Ashfield has grown by 5.8%, compared to 2.5% in Mansfield and 2.9% across the East Midlands. 

 

If we are serious about regenerating places like Ashfield and Mansfield - we have to be serious about improving public transport.  After decades of public transport neglect our region needs to get its act together.  I am pleased that Councils like Ashfield are leading the way on this.

 

By

Councillor Matthew Relf
Cabinet Member for Place, Planning & Regeneration