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Labour blasts Government over 'disgraceful' rail upgrade U-turns

Labour blasts Government over 'disgraceful' rail upgrade U-turns
2 min read

Labour has renewed its attack on the Government over “disgraceful” cancelled rail electrification projects. 

The Department for Transport last month dropped its plans for electrification on lines in Wales, the Midlands and Lake District.

The upgrade to the TransPennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York was still being “designed and developed”, the Government added.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said the refusal to commit to electrification meant amounted to “pulling the plug” on its Northern Powerhouse project – though the Government called his claims “nonsense”.

“The Government’s disgraceful U-turn on their promise to deliver electrification on the Midland Mainline, Trans-Pennine and Great Western routes will threaten economic growth in areas of England and Wales already suffering from poor connectivity and underinvestment,” the Labour frontbencher said.

“Pulling the plug on electrification shows the Tories’ disregard for Wales and Yorkshire, which will continue to suffer from underinvestment, and proves the ‘Midlands Engine’ and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ are just more empty slogans from this Government.”

He claimed Labour would deliver its £10bn manifesto commitment for the so-called “Crossrail for the North” to provide better links between cities.

And he also drew attention to estimates which showed passengers between Manchester and Leeds would not benefit from a 28-minute time saving if electrification was not approved.

A Department for Transport spokesperson responded: “The Government is completely committed to improving services for passengers in every part of the country – and to suggest otherwise is nonsense.

"By investing in new train technology, we're able to deliver all the benefits of electrification, but without the disruption of massive engineering works.

"We're spending £55.7bn building HS2, which will provide a massive boost to the Northern Powerhouse by better connecting it to London and the Midlands.

"And we're completely committed to working with Transport for the North as they develop their proposals for a high-speed Northern Powerhouse rail service across the Pennines.

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