Barbara Keeley MP


Rail services for the North

I share the frustration of the Mayor of Greater Manchester, City Mayor, MPs and Constituents at the Conservative Government’s decision to scrap the electrification of the Manchester to Leeds railway line. This is a serious breach of the promise made by the previous Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne, and exemplifies the Conservative Government’s attitude towards the North of England.

The Government appears to have abandoned its ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project completely, in favour of more investment into already booming central London. The Conservative Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, waited until the summer break to announce that he is scrapping the electrification of northern railway lines. He then announced billions of extra investment for London Crossrail just four days later. This is a huge disappointment for businesses and commuters across the North which are again left with an infrastructure system that is well out of date.

I fully support the comments made in July by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, when he said:-

“This statement from the transport secretary will cause widespread anger across the North of England. With every day that passes the promise of a Northern Powerhouse becomes ever more distant. People here have had to put up with sub-standard rail services for decades and will simply not accept that spending billions more on London is the country’s highest priority for transport investment. It will not escape people’s notice that this commitment to London today comes just days after the transport secretary cancelled electrification schemes all over the country. It raises the question of whether taxpayers everywhere else outside of London are paying to make Crossrail 2 viable.”

I am pleased to see that Members of Parliament from across the North of England have joined together to express their outrage at this decision. If the Conservative Government is willing to find the money to support Crossrail and provide a blank cheque to the High Speed Rail 2 project then it must invest in the town to city rail links that are the lifeblood to the northern economy. I will be continuing to keep up the pressure on the Conservative Government throughout summer and into the new parliamentary term.

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