VIDEO - Minister praises rail upgrade

Buoyed by a visit from Rail Minister Claire Perry on Monday morning, villagers are now vowing to press for further rail service improvements on the Lincoln to Peterborough line.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Ms Perry visited the refurbished Ruskington and Metheringham stations to officially open the recently-upgraded 86 mile Great Northern/Great Eastern line and see the £280 million investment to accommodate freight and more passenger capacity by speeding up traffic to a maximum of 75mph, rather than them using the busy East Coast Main Line.

Rail minister Claire Perry with Ruskington's district councillor Richard Wright and county councillor Stuart Tweedale along with Metheringham parish councillors Margaret Kristen, June Gwillym, Sally Wilson and Shirley Peek. EMN-151003-115904001

Rail minister Claire Perry with Ruskington's district councillor Richard Wright and county councillor Stuart Tweedale along with Metheringham parish councillors Margaret Kristen, June Gwillym, Sally Wilson and Shirley Peek. EMN-151003-115904001

It has involved 35 new bridges, 32 modernised, safer level crossings and continuously welded track to make the line quieter.

On arriving at Ruskington station Ms Perry opened a new half-million pound fully-accessible passenger ramp creating a safer route between platforms. She then travelled on to Metheringham to see the operation of the new, modernised level crossing next to the station, which uses RADAR and LIDAR scanning equipment to keep users safe and road and rail traffic moving by minimising the down time of the automated barriers.

Ms Perry said it was great to see the upgrades to the stations, with the possibility of getting more passenger trains along the line to link up with the mainline when the East Midlands franchise comes up for renewal at the end of the year and good for moving more freight around the area quicker and safely.

She said: “I was hearing about the Usain Bolt dash passengers used to have to make to change platforms and that has been replaced with something safer and hopefully people are starting to see this unprecedented level of investment in the railways is starting to reach all parts of the country.”

Network Rail managing director Phil Verster said communities should make a case to the train operators and the Department of Transport to include more passenger services when the franchise comes up for renewal.

Metheringham parish councillor Margaret Kristen said the automated level crossing at the station had made a big improvement for pedestrian safety, pointing out the service is being used even more due to cost of parking and traffic congestion in Lincoln but they needed more trains to make commuting and leisure practical.

Fellow councillor Sally Wilson agreed, saying the parish council would be lobbying for more services: “It is really important that we have proper public transport and this improvement is the first step. If you want to have a night out in Lincoln it currently costs you £14 for a taxi fare back.”