Railway electrification plans scrapped; Labour warns of long journey times and higher costs
The Labour Party has warned that scrapping railway electrification plans will lengthen journey times, increase carbon emissions and raise the cost of running the network.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced last month that plans to electrify lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North have been cancelled or downgraded.
Labour claimed this will increase the duration of journeys such as that between Manchester and Liverpool by nearly half an hour and between Leeds and Newcastle by over 20 minutes.
It also puts the estimated 19-minute journey time saving from new trains between Swansea and London at risk, according to the analysis.
Electrification can cut CO2 emissions by 20-30 per cent compared with diesel trains and slash maintenance costs by a third, Labour said.
The party also accused the Government of undermining the Crossrail for the North project - boosting east-west rail services in northern England - as the route will not be fully electrified.
Grayling took some flak last week after he simultaneously backed the multi billion-pound Crossrail 2 scheme, prompting critics to claim he was biased towards projects in the South of England.
A petition followed, calling for the government to invest more in transport in the north of England and has currently attracted almost 40,000 signatures.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “Pulling the plug on electrification shows the Tories’ disregard for Wales and Yorkshire, which will continue to suffer from under-investment, and proves the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse are just more empty slogans from this government.
“The Tories are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes by claiming that diesel bi-mode trains will deliver the same benefits as electrification, despite saying for years that failure to electrify the network costs more in the long run, causes more pollution, worsens air quality, lessens capacity and makes services slower and less reliable.
“Not only will Labour deliver the promised electrification, we will address the imbalance in transport infrastructure spending, committing to building a Crossrail for the North and enhancing and expanding the rail network in order to drive economic growth and re-balance our economy.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “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 £55.7 billion 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.”