Greater Manchester needs a better deal on transport, now, more than ever.
This is nothing new as we’ve been told time and time again by this Tory government that investment across the North is a priority.
I know how important a fair deal for the North West is as I’ve campaigned for improved transport links between Denton in the north of my constituency, and Reddish in the south, since becoming the MP for my local area in 2005.
Yet for every promise of improved investment on rail links for our region made by this Government, there has followed a U-turn or change in policy. A year ago, before the general election, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP stood on a platform in Wakefield and rejected any suggestions that the planned electrification of the Trans-Pennine route was to be shelved.
Fast forward to 2018 and it has been revealed (by the National Audit Office) that Mr Grayling must have already been aware that the decision had already been taken to cancel certain upgrades, as the decision had been made in March 2017. In a visit to Manchester later in 2017 the, still employed Transport Secretary, revealed that the Government’s position was now that, “We don’t need to electrify all of every route” – that’s just not good enough.
Creating better links between Tameside and Stockport, and Greater Manchester more widely, makes sense for both local business and the local economy more widely with Manchester being one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and the North West the fastest growing construction market in the UK. Added to this, we can reduce congestion and improving air quality for all of Greater Manchester.
That’s why I’m dedicated to campaigning for improved services for both areas, and specifically improving journey times from Denton into central Manchester. The benefit of this approach is clear to see as we already have the infrastructure in place, we have the lines, the stations and the route through from Stockport to Manchester Victoria – a destination otherwise not easily accessible directly from south-east Manchester.
But we need much more than this; for example, it’s absolutely essential to get more trains stopping at Fairfield Station heading into Piccadilly too, especially given the expanding housing developments taking place across that area.
They say that we have seen some progress – the once a week ‘Parliamentary Service’ which travels from Stockport to Stalybridge (stopping at Reddish South Station and Denton) on Friday mornings now has a return service, on a Saturday! If this is progress, then the Transport Secretary is off the rails.
I do want to give a special thanks to the Friends of Reddish South and Friends of Denton Stations’ who have campaigned with me tirelessly over the years for a proper rail service for our stations – unfortunately, we still have much more work to do.
In the last twelve months the Government managed to find over £30 billion for another transport link, Crossrail 2, for London, as well as a £1 billion-pound ‘bung’ for the DUP in order to stay in their jobs.
Chris Grayling and the Government have repeatedly betrayed Greater Manchester and Tameside residents with false promises. The longer the Transport Secretary stays in the job, the more it demonstrates the Prime Minister’s poor political judgement.