Anger as ministers shelve Yorkshire rail electrification plans

PLANS TO electrify Yorkshire's railway network have suffered another blow after the Government quietly scrapped the upgrading of the line between Selby and Hull.

The Government has backtracked on plans to electrify the rail line between Selby and Hull

Rail Minister Paul Maynard has told MPs along the route that passengers will experience improvements to services using the line without the need for electrification.

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The minister pointed to the recent announcement that First Hull Trains is to invest in trains which can operate under diesel and electric power.

The Government had repeatedly trumpeted its plans to upgrade the Selby to Hull line and First Hull Trains had offered a bridging loan to help meet the cost.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that the Government has turned down Hull line electrification despite private money being available from First Hull Trains to help meet the cost.

“There appears to be no problem finding money for the Garden Bridge in London from Government but they are not willing to invest in Hull rail electrification.

“I hope the Northern Powerhouse Minister, an East Yorkshire MP, will be able to get this decision overturned.”

The decision to scrap the Selby-to-Hull electrification is the latest in a string of setbacks for plans to upgrade Yorkshire’s rail network.

Challenged by Yorkshire MPs earlier this month, the Rail Minister refused to commit the Government to meet its own target of completing electrification of the Midland Mainline by 2023.

The scheme to upgrade the line, which connects Sheffield to London, was originally due to be completed by 2020 but last year the date was revised after ministers were forced to admit their rail electrification plans were in trouble.

The electrification of the trans-Pennine route was also put back from 2019 to 2022 but doubts have also been raised about that revised target.

In his letter to MPs, Mr Maynard points to First Hull Trains’s decision to spend £60m on ‘bi-mode’ trains which can operate on both diesel and electric power.

Mr Maynard said the Azuma trains soon to be brought into service by Virgin Trains would cut journey times to London while Arrival Rail North will introduce “new or refurbished trains” on services connecting Hull to Doncaster and Sheffield.

The minister said the promised loan would have been repayable by the Government when the upgrade was complete, making the project “fully publicly funded”.

Passengers in areas where electrification work had gone ahead had experienced “months of either complete line closure or mid-week nights and weekend closure”.

“He added: “Given the number of passenger benefits already being delivered without electrification, there is almost no further benefit to justify further publicly funded investment and the disruption electrification would bring.”