An agreement to secure direct trains between Market Rasen and London - bringing ‘significant economic benefits’ to the area - is closer than ever. Sir Edward Leigh MP, West Lindsey District Council and the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce are backing efforts by Cleethorpes' MP Martin Vickers to restore direct rail links from the South Bank to the capital, with trains passing through Market Rasen.
Mr. Vickers has been holding talks with Open Access Operator Grand Central Trains and Virgin East Coast about extending services, a move which complements the Chamber’s transport priorities for the region. Mr. Vickers has also been on the Transport Select Committee in an attempt to boost the hopes of restoring rail services which are seen as increasingly important in light of the growing renewables industry in Grimsby, and the Port of Immingham expansion. Sir Edward commented:
“I have long supported the efforts of my neighbouring parliamentary colleague Martin Vickers to extend direct rail services between London and Cleethorpes.
“This would potentially allow for stops at the Market Rasen railway station and would certainly bring significant economic benefits to our area.”
The possibility of direct London trains has been under consideration as Virgin East Coast has said it will hand back its franchise to the Government earlier than expected, raising the possibility of such a service being included in the next franchise agreement. Virgin is already extending its services to Lincoln next year, so there is hope that a move will open up the possibility of at least a couple of trains a day up to Cleethorpes via Market Rasen.
In the coming weeks, the transport spokesman for West Lindsey’s Conservative Councillors, Cllr. Lewis Strange, will also meet with train operators and ‘champion the needs for our district’. Cllr. Strange said:
“Local Conservatives, with the support of our MP, are supporting efforts to bring more rail connections to the district.
“A direct service to and from London to Market Rasen could bring real benefits to the area. The district council is a partner within the North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire Community Rail Partnership, and is actively engaged in bringing better rail services to the district.
“I will be attending a meeting in the next few weeks with train operators and championing the needs of our district for an improved service.”
Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce external affairs manager David Hooper said:
“The Chamber welcomes and will support any long-term plans to secure sustainable direct train services to the capital to aid the long-term growth and sustainability of Northern Lincolnshire.
“Martin has been talking to the train companies and looking at several options and we are happy to work with him to ensure these important ambitions become a reality sooner, rather than later, as had originally been feared.”
Hundreds of new jobs are being created on the banks of the Humber in connection with renewable energy which the expansion of the port at Immingham is also expected to generate employment opportunities.