Ministers have not only been accused of backtracking over broken pledges to electrify a key rail route between Yorkshire and London, they stand accused of failing to provide the infrastructure spending crucial to the future success of the North’s economy, in favour of a new £30bn Crossrail scheme in the capital.
It is just a matter of weeks since the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told this newspaper during an election visit to Wakefield that, “we’ve made promises and we endeavour to keep our promises”.
Mr Grayling has been stung by recent criticism and writing in The Yorkshire Post today he denies the Government’s commitment to improving transport in the North has been dropped in favour of the Crossrail scheme.
He says that by 2020 the Government will have spent over £13bn on transport in the North and that improving journeys for passengers travelling on the Midland Main Line through Sheffield was among his ‘priorities’.
The Minister accepts that the region’s transport connections are ‘inadequate’ but denies the South is getting preferential treatment. However, the figures suggest otherwise. Earlier this week the think tank IPPR North revealed that if the North had received the same amount of transport spending per person as London it would have had an additional £59bn over the last decade.
Not only that but the average train journey from Hull to Liverpool Lime Street takes nearly an hour longer than it does to travel by Eurostar from London to Paris. This is simply unacceptable and must be addressed if we are going to tackle the growing North-South divide.
Mr Grayling says the Government ‘won’t let the North down’. If we are to take him at his word he must now come up with a definitive plan and timetable, otherwise this will be just yet another broken promise.