News: Government freezes rail upgrades, and ‘the Great Northern power cut’

Guardian 26th June 2015 “The government has shelved promised and vital upgrades to major rail lines in the Midlands and the north of England, just weeks after the election in which the Conservatives campaigned on rebalancing the country and creating a “northern powerhouse”.

Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, said the government had “paused” electrification of the Midland mainline from London to Sheffield, and the TransPennine route between Manchester and Leeds that connects major cities across the north, after Network Rail’s costs spiralled and it missed targets.

McLoughlin conceded that investment, vaunted as the biggest in the railways since Victorian times, was not after all going to deliver the projects promised in its £38.5bn five-year plan because of what he called Network Rail’s unacceptable performance.”

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“At the heart of the Conservative promise for the 2015 election was its commitment to rebalance the economy by investing in infrastructure. The model was to be the Northern Powerhouse, where Whitehall collaborated with combined local authorities in the north to send economic revival rippling across the region.

Less than two months on from election day, reality has returned with humbling force. The government regrets that your rail modernisation has been delayed. Please listen for further announcements. The electrification of the London to Sheffield line has had to be shelved, the trans-Pennine upgrade branded as HS3 is to be delayed. The 2014-19 five-year plan has effectively been torn up.”

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