July 2: Anger at false Tory election claims on railways

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From: David Brear, Terrington.

I WAS disappointed to hear that the Government will be unable to proceed with the electrification and other improvements to the TransPennine line, particularly in view of the prominence given by the Chancellor and others to the “Northern Hub” as an alternative to development in the South East. But having researched the matter, I am now angry that the Government should have made this a plank in their election platform, knowing full well that it would not be possible to electrify the line in the foreseeable future.

Pre-election, the Chancellor said in his Budget that he would “develop a network of high quality rail connections across the North”.

On February 7, he stood alongside the area director for Network Rail when he said: “The Northern Hub and electrification programme is the biggest investment in the railway in the north of England for a generation.”

Yet, only 19 days later, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin was well aware that electrification would not proceed. Nevertheless during the election the Conservative manifesto, said: “We will electrify the main rail routes, build the Northern Hub, and provide new trains for the North.”

The Prime Minister referred to “electrifying the rail lines between the main towns and cities in the north of England”.

The recent announcement sees the electrification as “paused” but we know better, don’t we?

From: Coun Dafydd Williams, Labour Group Leader, City of York Council, York.

SO the Conservative Government’s secret is out. The Prime Minister and Chancellor were making all sorts of pre-election promises around transport to benefit the North that they knew they couldn’t or wouldn’t keep post-election (The Yorkshire Post, June 26).

Although the crisis at Network Rail has only come to public prominence in recent days, the electrification schemes, including York to Manchester, were known to be in trouble back in December, well before many of Mr Cameron’s public pronouncements.

It was then that the chief executive of the Office of the Rail Regulator wrote to Network Rail to say the timetable for TransPennine electrification (to be delivered in the period 2014-2019) would slip. That can only mean one thing; it almost certainly won’t be delivered in this Parliament which means leading Tories have been misleading the public.

This has all the makings of a post-election row back on David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s commitment to invest in and improve rail connectivity in the North, something which threatens to undermine the idea that the Tories’ are truly committed to rebalancing the national economy through the creation of the so called Northern Powerhouse.

From: Andrew Cook CBE, Chairman, William Cook Holdings Ltd, Parkway Avenue, Sheffield.

THE Government’s decision to delay the Trans-Pennine and Midland Mainline electrification schemes deserves a considered response rather than knee-jerk cries of “betrayal”.

The two schemes are not mutually inter-dependent.

Of the two, the TransPennine scheme and associated “infill” and suburban electrification such as Leeds – Garforth – York and Leeds – Harrogate are much the most important. The sub-standard rolling stock and over-crowding on these routes, particularly at peak times, are completely unacceptable.

Pressure to implement the electrification proposals should be concentrated here.

In contrast, the present Midland Mainline services starting at Sheffield and Nottingham are already of a much higher standard. Overcrowding, while still a problem at some peak times, is not overwhelming, and the roughly half-hourly service is generally fast and efficient.

Electrification is unlikely to make any significant improvement to journey times.

A further advantage of pushing ahead with the Trans-Pennine scheme is that the existing Siemens diesel trains could be cascaded to the South Yorkshire services, to replace the horrendous “Pacers” and “Sprinters” which, were they the buses they resemble, would have been scrapped long ago.

From: Hilary Andrews, Leeds.

IT is really disappointing that the planned changes to our railways are not to take place (The Yorkshire Post, June 26).

Is it because we are too successful – with the Tour de France and the Tour de Yorkshire, plus creating more jobs here than in the whole of Europe, and our Yorkshire cricket team contributing all our best players to England but still managing not to lose a match this season? Maybe the South are unable to stomach our success without handouts from the Government?

Fred Hoyle’s radio talks

From: Rosemary Whitaker, Warthill, York.

WITH reference to your article on Fred Hoyle (The Yorkshire Post, June 24), he was a great inspiration during the war. I think he was given five minutes before 8am about any topic but most of all with humour.

I am 86 and that is how I remember him, as the family listened every time he was on. I reckon this was before he achieved fame for his scientific and writing prowess.