Nottinghamshire MPs pressing Government for Robin Hood Line rail extension

An existing test track which passes the former Thoresby Colliery site could become an extension for the Robin Hood Line across North Notts. Photo: Nottsexminer

MPs are calling on the Government to deliver on money earmarked to extend the Robin Hood Line across north Nottinghamshire and build new stations.

Talks on the plan began in 2016, and Conservatives Ben Bradley and Mark Spencer say funding was set aside by the last Government for part of the project.

Mr Bradley, who represents Mansfield, and Mr Spencer, who is MP for Sherwood, both now say it is time for the Department for Transport to deliver.

Both met Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on Tuesday (September 5) to push him on the issue.

The existing line links Nottingham to Worksop via Mansfield and opened in stages between 1993 and 1998.

The planned extension would take in Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton and would link people to new employment sites at the former Welbeck and Thoresby collieries. Supporters also say it could boost tourism in Sherwood Forest.

The planned extension is also being backed by Nottinghamshire County Council, which has already spent £200,000 trying to demonstrate that extending the line is possible.

Mansfield MP Ben Bradley.

“Road and rail links in the North Notts area leave a lot to be desired for, which is a shame given what the area has to offer in terms of tourism and employment opportunities,” said Mr Bradley.

A test railway track that already runs east of Warsop could be used for the extension.

The route is currently used by Network Rail to test trains and equipment and if the plan goes ahead they would likely have to replace two miles of track, but avoid much of the infrastructure work needed for an entirely new rail line.

Mr Bradley added: “I want to see not only a high quality service on the Robin Hood Line, but one that showcases what the area has to offer and enhances its huge economic potential.

“That is why I think we need both an improved service to encourage commuting to Sheffield and Nottingham, and an extension of the line to enhance tourism in the Sherwood Forest area.”

Besides the six mile-plus extension from Warsop to Ollerton, the plan would involve re-opening existing stations in Warsop, and Edwinstowe and building a new station in Ollerton.

The existing line is operated on a franchise held by East Midlands Trains, which is due for renewal in the coming months.

A Department for Transport spokesman said the extension is being consulted on as part of the franchise renewal, with a decision expected next month.

Funding for Nottinghamshire’s rail network is an issue which has long caused rows between Ministers and local MPs.

In July Mr Grayling faced anger from Labour MPs, local councillors and East Midlands Chamber after the Government dropped a plan to electrify the Midland Mainline to speed up journey times between Nottingham and other cities.

Instead it plans to pay for ‘bi-mode’ trains, capable of running on diesel and existing electric rail lines.

The previous November the Government had also faced fierce criticism for failing to commit to the scheme,after ‘unpausing’ it following an earlier review.

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