Government's Transpennine rail spending mess shows contempt for North - The Yorkshire Post says

Anyone unfortunate enough to have been on a train in the North of England in recent days – or months, or years – can attest to the infuriating barrage of cancellations, crowding and high cost on our snail-paced railways.

Now, a report from the Government’s spending watchdog goes some in explaining just why travellers continue to be ferried over the Pennines by such interminably poor services.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that almost £200m spent on the Transpennine Route Upgrade has been wasted and the project could be hit by “substantial delays” and run over its new budget of £11.5bn.

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A Transpennine train travelling towards Manchester.A Transpennine train travelling towards Manchester.
A Transpennine train travelling towards Manchester.

How ironic that this is the same budget that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who may not even be in post come the autumn, yesterday gloated would be “the single biggest investment any government has ever made in Britain’s railways.

“It’s right up there and probably beyond what the Victorians were doing,” he crowed.

Let’s hope it’s spent wisely this time.

Plans to upgrade the 76-mile line, which runs between York and Manchester, were first announced in 2011 and the NAO has revealed £1bn has been spent so far – highlighting that the Department for Transport has “taken too long to decide how to upgrade the route” and “repeatedly altered” the plans since work began in 2015.

Mr Shapps now says the line will be fully electrified among other improvements but passengers will have to wait until 2036, at the earliest, to benefit.

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This is of little use to commuters who feel treated with total contempt.

Though not funded solely by Government, consider the difference with London’s recently unveiled Crossrail – work started in 2008 and it has cost £19bn.

Meanwhile the North’s economic prospects remain choked by outdated services heaping misery on those forced to use them.