Grayling faces new calls to invest in Yorkshire’s under-funded railways

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TRAINS connecting many of the North’s major towns and cities are up to four times slower than commuter services in London and the South East.

The new research – published today – will intensify pressure on the Government to include a commitment to Crossrail for the North in the next Budget.

It comes after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling wrote a controversial column for The Yorkshire Post last week in which he challenged the region’s political and business leaders to step up to the plate and come up with a definitive plan of their own.

His comments sparked anger from politicians – Greater Manchester’s metro-mayor Andy Burnham said the region will not put up with “clapped out trains” any longer.

More than 85,000 people have signed a protest petition – a minimum of 100,000 names is required to trigger a Parliamentary debate.

Analysis of the quickest possible trains on 19 routes found that services from London travel at average speeds of 65-93mph, compared with just 20-60mph elsewhere. The journey from London to Reading can take 24 minutes to cover the 37-mile trip at speeds of up to 93mph.

By way of contrast, the fastest train from Leeds to Manchester, a journey of 36 miles, is 49 minutes at a speed of 44mph.

The quickest service between Leeds and Sheffield covers 28 miles in 40 minutes – a speed of 42mph.

The research by the Press Association featured trains operating on Fridays.

Yet there are 16 trains from 7-8am between Reading and London – ahead of the new £14.8bn Crossrail line opening – compared to just eight between Leeds and Manchester.

The furore was sparked when the Government controversially reversed pre-election promises to electrify the Sheffield to London route and Leeds to Manchester line.

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “You simply cannot deliver a Northern Powerhouse as long as the regions that delivered the Industrial Revolution are reliant on transport infrastructure that is operating on a 19th century timetable.”

Think tank IPPR North senior research fellow Luke Raikes said slow journey times were “down to decades of under-investment as the Government has just responded to congestion problems in London”.

More than 85,000 people have signed the organisation’s petition calling on the Government to overhaul trans-Pennine services.

The think tank claims £1,943 is being spent per person in London on current or planned transport projects compared with just £427 in the North.

However Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operators and Network Rail, said the latest figures were spurious.

He added: “It’s misleading to compare stopping services with intercity services, which are faster because they stop at fewer stations, but of course we need to continue investing to keep improving journeys across the country. Rail plays a vital role in connecting communities and driving economic growth across the country, which is why the industry is working together to deliver over 5,500 new carriages and 6,400 extra services a week by 2021.”