I was absolutely appalled – if not shocked – when the Transport Secretary announced that a ‘pause’ had been put on the electrification and upgrade of several key lines in the North.
One of these lines – arguably the most important – is the Manchester to Leeds line, which goes right through Tameside, taking in a station in my constituency, Guide Bridge.
Needless to say, the cancellation of this line goes to show that the ‘northern powerhouse’ was just empty talk from the Chancellor. The Transport Secretary has called the electrification of the London to Bristol line ‘a top priority’, so the north is losing out to the south once again.
If we want to link up our great urban centres and compete with the south of England, we need to sort out our transport infrastructure.
The Manchester Evening News has formed a campaign to reverse this Tory Government’s decision. I fully support the MEN’s campaign, and I hope this Tory Government delivers everything it promised before the election.
I am joined by other Labour MPs in the North West, including Andy Burnham, who is standing to be Labour leader.
Our call does not come about simply because we represent the areas we live in – it comes about because it makes economic sense. The great towns and cities of the North of England need to have the kind of support and investment that London and the South East have benefited from.
If we could link up the great business centres of the North West, we could be a force to be reckoned with, and it would bring jobs and growth to our region. As it stands, our transport infrastructure is a national laughing stock, and in no way suitable for serving the region that drove the Industrial Revolution.
I will be pushing the Government in the House of Commons to do two simple things: give us the money, and restart the upgrade work.
It is long overdue, and the return on investment would be enormous.
So come on, Prime Minister – deliver on your pre-election promises.
This column was originally published in the 9th July 2015 issue of the Tameside Reporter