Local MP for Denton and Reddish, Andrew Gwynne, has responded with anger as Ministers announced their refusal to back the project to electrify the train line between Manchester and Leeds.
Announced by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, who reported that the plans to electrify this crucial link in the North West could be cancelled because it would be too difficult to run electric pylons along the whole line between the two cities, and instead suggested that the line could operate with diesel engines on part of the network.
Only two years ago, the then Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, proclaimed that electrifying the line was “at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse” – what the Government calls its policies to improve the economy of the north of England. However, on a visit to Manchester on Friday (21 July), Grayling confirmed the Government’s U-turn to reporters and told them that the Government’s position was that, “We don’t need to electrify all of every route.”
Added to this Grayling revealed that not only would the electrification of the Manchester to Leeds line likely not go ahead, but that Manchester Piccadilly’s platform extension may not either. Grayling confirmed this by also revealing that he had ordered Network Rail, who own the rail infrastructure of the line, to review plans to build two platforms as part of a £600m “Northern Hub” plan that includes connecting Victoria and Piccadilly stations in Manchester.
In a final insult to passengers in the North, Grayling confirmed on Monday (24 July), that unlike his decision to scrap planned upgrades on rail links in the North of England it was his intention to go ahead with the grossly expensive Crossrail 2 rail project for London. At £30 billion pounds, Crossrail 2 is one of the most expensive transport extensions on earth and is a further sign of where the Government’s true priorities lie.
Gwynne has today written to the Transport Secretary to express his disappointment at this decision as well as demanding clarification on rail electrification across the North West.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“I’m furious that the Government has yet again reneged on its promises to invest on desperately needed rail and transport infrastructure for the North West. This is costing our region billions in lost revenue, as well as journey times which have not improved for decades.
“We have been told again and again that electrification of vital rail links across the north was a top priority, well today the Government has shown where it’s true priorities lie, and it is most certainly not in the North.
“They’ve found over £30 billion for another transport link in London, as well as a £1 billion-pound ‘bung’ for the DUP in order to stay in their jobs.
“I and my Labour colleagues across the North West will fight the Government all the way on this.”