Minister accused of rail ‘U-turn’

The Government is accused of backtracking over rail electrification
The Government is accused of backtracking over rail electrification
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TRANSPORT Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has been accused of making a U-turn over plans to electrify a Yorkshire rail line.

The Calder Valley line was identified as a priority for electrification in a report commissioned by the Government before the General Election.

However, delays to existing electrification projects raised questions over the timing of future rail investment.

And the Transport Secretary was reluctant to commit the Government to future electrification last week when he set out a new timetable for the completion of the upgrade to the Trans-Pennine and Midland Mainline.

Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift said: “I am very concerned about the reported comments from the Transport Secretary about the Calder Valley line electrification where he appeared to be saying that now was not necessarily seen as a Government priority which is a complete U-turn from what they were saying before the election and from the report of the northern electrification taskforce which identified that as the best case for investment.

“It also makes no logical sense in terms of a long term network to electrify the Trans-Pennine route and not electrify the Calder Valley line and similarly it makes no sense to leave Bradford as a major city not on the electrified network.”

The revised electrification plans will see the Trans-Pennine route connecting York and Leeds to Manchester completed by 2022 and the Midland Mainline by 2023. New franchises to run trains across the North will be awarded before Christmas.