Giant plug travelling from London to Sheffield in call for railway electrification

Leicester Friends of the Earth Press release

Saturday 9th September 2017

Giant plug travelling from London to Sheffield in call for railway electrification

On Saturday, environmental campaigners will board a train in London, carrying a giant electrical plug. They will then pass it on at Bedford and the plug will continue in a relay all the way to Sheffield. Local groups all the way along the route are calling on the Government to reverse the decision made in July to cancel plans to electrify the Midland Mainline beyond Kettering. They are asking the Government to ‘plug in’ their trains to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.

During the day, both on the trains and at stations, campaigners will be collecting signatures on a petition asking the Government not to go back on their promise to electrify the railways. The petition was created by two national organisations, 10:10 and the Campaign for Better Transport, and it already has almost 9000 signatures.

The plug will be at Leicester station between 13:24 and 14:01. Leicester Friends of the Earth members will be outside the station from noon until 14:30, collecting petition signatures and talking to members of the public about the campaign for electrification.

Hannah Wakley from Leicester Friends of the Earth said:

“Diesel trains contribute to air pollution, which is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. We have a problem with air pollution in Leicester and switching to electric trains would lead to substantial improvements in air quality. Electrifying the railways would also reduce the carbon footprint of travel because electricity generation is rapidly becoming cleaner.

This cancellation continues the trend of underinvestment in transport infrastructure outside of London and the South East. The Government talk about ‘rebalancing the economy’ and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but people need action as well as words. No community should have to put up with dirty air with no end in sight.”

Leo Murray, director at 10:10 Climate Action said:

“Electric trains are a no brainer – they’re less polluting so better for our health and better for passengers. And thanks to renewable energy we can power them in a cleaner, more climate friendly way than dirty diesel offers. But by slamming the brakes on rail electrification, the government is turning their backs on communities up and down the UK who could benefit from this.

It’s high time the government got with the programme and started backing a cleaner, greener railway. From south Wales to the north of England our communities deserve better – that’s why we launched our petition and that’s why we’re supporting this action.”

Plans have also been frozen for rail electrification in the Lake District and campaigners there are supporting the Midland Mainline action. Members of the Lakes Line Rail Users Group will be travelling to Sheffield to meet the plug.

Contact: Hannah Wakley – 0773 474 9035



1.       The timetable for the complete relay is:

London to Bedford 10:29 – 11:04
Bedford to Kettering 11:37 – 11:59
Kettering to Market Harborough 12:23 – 12:33
Market Haborough to Leicester 13:10 – 13:24
Leicester to Derby 14:01 – 14:23
Derby to Chesterfield 15:05 – 15:27
Chesterfield to Sheffield 16:03 – 16:18

2.       The 10:10 and Campaign for Better Transport petition is online here:

 3.       The event has been publicised on Facebook:

 4.       The Department for Transport’s own report,  Britain’s Transport Infrastructure: Rail Electrification (July 2009), makes the case for electrification (p.7):
Electric trains have a number of significant advantages over diesel-powered trains. They have far lower running costs, far lower carbon emissions and offer better environmental performance; they can also increase capacity and reliability, and provide a better passenger experience.”

 5.       The following groups are involved in the relay: Bedford Green Party, East Midlands Rail Campaign, Northampton Friends of the Earth, Sustainable Harborough, Leicester Friends of the Earth, Derby Lib Dems, Transition Chesterfield, Chesterfield Climate Alliance, Sheffield Climate Alliance, Sheffield Green Party and Lakes Line Rail Users Group.