The Department for Transport is expected to announce positive news “imminently” on its involvement in the CastleLine project for more and faster trains between Lincoln and Nottingham.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said “there is a very strong possibility that positive news might be announced imminently.”
As previously reported, county and district councils have pledged money towards the £700,000 yearly cost to improve the frequency and speed of trains between the two cities.
Lincolnshire County Council, the City of Lincoln Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and other authorities are putting money towards the better train connections, with the Department for Transport (Dft) supporting around half of the costs.
The councils and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have committed a combined £205,000 per year for three years to trial the scheme, which would require more than £2.1m in total.
The proposed service would deliver an average reduction in journey times of around 7 minutes eastbound and 3 minutes westbound for Lincoln.
It would also double the frequency for Hykeham, as well reduce journey times.
Newark, Carlton, Burton Joyce and Fiskerton, Bleasby, Thurgarton and Rolleston would also benefit from increases in the number of trains running under the project proposals.
East Midlands Trains would use its only spare train and carriages for the extra services.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said: “Whilst at this point in time I have not had definitive confirmation of any definite improvements to the Castle Cross-Country service between Lincoln and Nottingham via Newark.
“I am aware through my working in partnership over a long period with the County Council and colleagues in both Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire that there is a very strong possibility that positive news might be announced imminently.
“I spoke supportively in a HoC debate back in February on this particular issue, and hope that any improvements will increase service frequency, alleviate over crowding, offer quicker journeys and potentially improve weekend services too.
“All credit to my colleague Rob Jenrick [Conservative Newark MP] who added his weight to the campaign from the outset as the Newark By-Election candidate, and has seen just dividends.”
County Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said:
“This scheme would increase the number of services that come into Hykeham Station, and it’d also reduce the journey time for trains travelling between Lincoln and Nottingham. I think it’d bring a number of benefits both for passengers and local businesses.
“We’ve committed to investing £70,000 and a number of organisations have also declared their willingness to contribute money towards this, but we need to secure the support of the Department for Transport for the scheme to go ahead.
“I understand that a decision could be announced in the coming days, and if we’re successful the new services could be in place for May 2015.”
Karl McCartney and Lincoln business representatives also made their plea recently to the bidders of the East Coast rail franchise for better city links to and from London.
The three firms in the running for the franchise are East Coast Trains Limited, a joint bid from Eurostar East Coast Limited and Keolis, and Inter City Railways Limited who are owned by Stagecoach and Virgin.
The Department of Transport is expected to reveal the preferred bidder for the East Coast Franchise in November 2014.