Jeremy Corbyn accuses ministers of 'utter disregard' for the North amid spike in rail delays

Posted On: 
3rd September 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Government of having an "utter disregard" for commuters in the north of England, as new figures from Labour revealed a spike in train cancellations.

The Labour leader said rail privatisation had 'failed' commuters
Credit: 
PA

According to the party, the number of trains that are cancelled or significantly late has soared by 50 percent since 2010.

Labour also published fresh analysis of Department for Transport figures showing that the proportion of passenger trains arriving on time has dropped from 91.5% in 2010 to 87.8%.

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Meanwhile, Labour says overcrowding has increased by more than 25% on the ten most over-crowded peak time rail routes.

The figures were unveiled as Mr Corbyn sought to capitalise on a summer of severe disruption to rail services in the north of England, where passengers have faced a string of delays and cancellations following a botched timetable shake-up.

The Labour leader said: "The rail chaos unleashed by the Tories on the North of England shows their utter disregard for people living in the towns and cities in the North.

“For decades northern communities have received only a fraction of the transport investment that is spent in London and the South East. Labour will put this right by building Crossrail for the North, connecting the great cities of the north of England to unlock huge untapped potential."

Mr Corbyn said the spike in delays showed that "rail privatisation has failed" and reiterated Labour's vow to bring the railways into public ownership.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald meanwhile said Britain's railways were "fast becoming a national disgrace".

"With fares up set to go up by 36% since 2010, it’s clear that passengers are paying more for less under the Tories," he added.

But a Department for Transport spokesman said ministers had ploughed significant investment into services in the North.

"We are spending over £13bn through to 2020 to transform transport across the North, the biggest investment any government in history has ever made," they said.

"We are committed to northern investment, which is why we are investing £3bn upgrading the TransPennine route and providing an extra 500 carriages with space for 40,000 extra passengers and 2,000 additional services each week.

"The Government is also committed to developing Northern Powerhouse Rail. We have given Transport for the North £60m to develop proposals for the scheme, alongside £300m to ensure HS2 can accommodate future NPR services. Transport for the North is currently working to produce a business case for Northern Powerhouse by the end of 2018."

HS2 DELAY

The row came as it emerged that the Government is set impose a 12-month legislative delay to its flagship High Speed 2 rail project.

According to The Times, the Bill paving the way for the Manchester and Leeds section of HS2 - known as Phase 2b - will now not be tabled until 2020.

The Department for Transport said the pause was being imposed in order to accommodate the "northern powerhouse rail" link between Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester.

A spokesperson told the Times: "To maximise the huge potential of HS2, it is important to take full account of the emerging vision for the other transformative project of northern powerhouse rail.

"Phase 2b of the railway will connect the great cities of the North to boost jobs, housing and economic growth, and remains on track to open in 2033."

Last week it was announced that London's Crossrail service is set to be delayed by nine months.