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Electrification of Leeds to Manchester rail route in doubt

 

West Yorkshire Combined Authority responds to comments from Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, in which he has suggested electrification along the entire Transpennine rail route from Leeds to Manchester may be “too difficult”.

Speaking last Friday, Mr Grayling MP said bi-mode trains, which can travel on both electrified and non-electrified sections of a track, may be used in areas of the route built in Victorian times where it would be difficult to put up electric cables. This comes just two years after Government announced electrification of the route would be complete by 2022.

By contrast, in a statement today, the Transport Secretary has agreed to work on the next phase of the Crossrail 2 project that will run rail services from Surrey, through London, and into Hertfordshire. This was estimated to cost £30bn at 2014 prices. 

Cllr Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Chair, said:  

“The Transport Secretary’s recent comments appear to pre-empt Network Rail’s work concluding this autumn and hints at broken promises that will mean faster journeys and improved productivity in the North created through rail improvements are derailed. Improving rail routes from Leeds to Manchester is integral to reducing journey times and improving efficiency and connectivity between two key hubs of the Northern Powerhouse.

“It is very disappointing to hear the Transport Secretary’s comments ahead of the work being concluded. If the Secretary of State is warming us up for bad news, this makes a mockery of the Government’s ambitions to rebalance the economy of the country and once again Government seem to be going short-sighted in the North. We urge the Government not to go back on its promises to electrify this route and to improve rail services for business, workers and residents from the Leeds City Region. We would ask the Transport Secretary to give his commitment to this scheme and to use his Autumn Budget to provide the necessary investment needed to take it forward.” 

Mr Grayling MP’s comments follow last week’s announcement by Government that it has now abandoned rail electrification schemes including the Midland mainline route from London to Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.

Meanwhile, a report earlier this year by IPPR North said that transport spending in Yorkshire and Humber is now £1,500 per head less than in London*.  (opens in new tab)
  

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