Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, responding to a question from Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski, said a report due later this year would provide more details on how best to reduce carbon emissions on the rail network.
Network Rail, the state-owned company responsible for managing British railways, recommended in July this year the electrification of the line, after being asked by the government to draw up a plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels .
Mr Heaton-Harris said the company was now working on a more detailed plan that would be used to make decisions on the speed and scope of the program.
âOnce the final strategy is released, we will develop business cases for each electrification program to ensure they are deliverable and affordable,â he said.
Mr Kawczynski has requested a meeting with Mr Heaton-Harris and Shropshire Transport Council spokesperson Councilor Steve Davenport to advocate for the investment.
Kawczynski said he would also meet with Network Rail officials to keep the pressure on the government.
âNetwork Rail has identified this section of the line as requiring priority to obtain electrification,â he said.
Mr Kawczynski added that in addition to the obvious environmental benefits of having emissions-free trains along the route, he said electrification would also boost Shropshire’s economy.
“At the moment, if you take the direct train to London, you have to change locomotive in Birmingham because the line is not electrified,” he said. âThere are clearly benefits to bringing the latest rolling stock into Shrewsbury and increasing the number of trains coming along the line. “
The 30 mile section, which is part of the West Coast Main Line franchise, serves Bilbrook, Codsall, Albrighton, Cosford, Shifnal, Oakengates, Telford and Wellington stations. The need to modernize the line was highlighted after the government asked Network Rail to draw up plans to phase out all diesel-only trains by 2040.
The plans, which propose that almost all non-electrified parts of the West Midlands rail network be converted, will now be submitted to the government for consideration as part of its comprehensive spending review.
The project was well received by regional transport organization Midlands Connect, which said it could potentially represent the biggest rail revolution in more than a century. The body, which includes 22 local authorities in the region, said the plans would improve the environment, provide better service and create skilled jobs in the region.