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Nottingham-born Paralympic speed champ Richard Whitehead today (9 December) visited Nottingham station to help officially launch new faster journey times to London
The 200m Gold Medallist and World Record Holder assisted East Midlands Trains and Network Rail with the dispatch of the new 07.55 service from Nottingham which now takes just 91 minutes to reach London. This marks the fastest ever journey time between the two cities, a reduction of eight minutes from the previous fastest journey, setting a new record for train travel from Nottingham to London. The average journey time has also been reduced in the new timetable by five minutes to 1 hour and 48 minutes.
The launch of the new faster train journeys comes on the back of a £70 million investment programme being delivered by Network Rail in partnership with East Midlands Trains. The programme of work includes the upgrade of almost 160 miles of track, with trains able to run at 125 mph on parts of the Midland Main Line route for the first time ever. Other work carried out as part of the investment package includes the replacement of a number of level crossings with bridges, minor re-signalling and work to realign parts of the track.
Richard Whitehead, who is famous for breaking world speed records, joined Neil Micklethwaite, Customer Service & Commercial Director for East Midlands Trains; Justin Page, Area Director for Network Rail; Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South and Shadow Rail Minister and Councillor Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation for Nottingham City Council to launch the new timetable today.
Richard Whitehead said: "As a Nottingham-born lad, and with speed something that is obviously so close to my heart, it's great to see East Midlands Trains launching faster trains from Nottingham to London."
Neil Micklethwaite, Customer Service and Commercial Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “Today marks the culmination of many years of work by our stakeholders, staff and industry colleagues to deliver some significant improvements for our customers in Nottingham.
"Following the improvements made over the summer, we now have a railway around Nottingham that has modern, new infrastructure that will enable more capacity on the network and allow us to continue to grow passenger numbers which all helps to improve the economies of the areas we serve. With the opening of the new station here next year, Nottingham will finally have a station and service that everybody can be proud of.”
Justin Page, Area Director for Network Rail, added: "The Midland Main Line is an important railway as it connects communities in the East Midlands and provides a key commuter route to London. Our £70million investment will allow trains to run up to 125 miles an hour on sections of the route, bringing significant social and economic benefits to the region through faster journeys and improved reliability. We are working closely with East Midlands Trains to complete the final stages of this programme of investment.”
Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South and Shadow Rail Minister, said: “Before the General Election I promised to help secure better transport links for Nottingham. The importance of faster train services was in my maiden speech, so I was delighted to join Paralympian Richard Whitehead, Network Rail and East Midlands Trains this morning to wave off the new 91 minute service from Nottingham to London St Pancras. This investment was committed by the last Labour Government and I welcome the decision of the current Government to build on those strong foundations. I'm looking forward to the reopening of Nottingham's refurbished station next year and to further improvements to journey times once the Midland Main Line is electrified.”
Councillor Jane Urquhart, Nottingham City Council Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation said: “The improved travel times to and from London are fantastic news for Nottingham, particularly given the timing with the redevelopment of the station being completed next year. The opening of the new station and the completion of other transport improvements currently in progress across the city will result in longer term gains for the local economy and Nottingham as a whole”.
Councillor Kevin Greaves, Chairman of the Nottinghamshire County Council’s Transport and Highways Committee, added: Nottinghamshire County Council welcomes this speed-up on the Nottingham – London service, which will reduce the time for a trip to London and back by almost a quarter of an hour. We thank Network Rail for having completed the work on time, on budget, and without the years of disruption that other lines have suffered during upgrades. East Midlands Trains’ excellent reliability and now faster journey times will give passengers and businesses across Greater Nottingham the service to London that they deserve.”
In addition to the improvements for Nottingham, passengers in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby, Loughborough and Leicester will also benefit from faster journeys to London.
Copies of the new timetable are now available at East Midlands Trains stations and online at eastmidlandstrains.co.uk. In addition to the improved journey times, there will also be changes to many of the departure times and connection times. Passengers are therefore strongly advised to check the new timetable in advance of travel.