'˜Betrayal' over Yorkshire rail electrification

THE Government has been accused of backtracking on plans to electrify a key Yorkshire rail route by 2023.

Midland Mainline electrification could be further delayed

Challenged by MPs. Transport Minister Paul Maynard refused to commit the Government to meeting the target to electrify the Midland Mainline which connects Sheffield to London.

The scheme was originally due to be completed by 2020 but was delayed last year after Ministers were forced to admit its rail electrification programme was in trouble.

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A new completion date to have the electrification to Sheffield completed by 2023 was set by then Transport Secretary Sir Patrick McLoughlin but that now appears to be in doubt.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “When this scheme was last delayed, the Transport Secretary came to the House of Commons and pledged that the work would be completed by 2023.

“Last night the Rail Minister backtracked on that pledge. It is a complete betrayal. Electrification would deliver additional services, improved journey times, greater reliability, lower operating costs and a huge reduction in carbon emissions.

“It would be a huge boost to the economy and jobs in Sheffield. We cannot accept any delays.”

ASked in the Commons whether he could confirm the 2023 target, Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “What we are focusing on today is ensuring that we have better quality train services on the inter-city routes by ensuring that the longer distance trains have fewer stopping places south of Kettering. Therefore, we are continuing that development work.

“I am not going to take lectures from Labour Members about the pace of electrification, given that the Labour party failed to electrify more than six miles in its entire time in government.

“We are electrifying the line from St Pancras to Corby and Kettering to enable faster journeys for commuters on that route, and then we are continuing the development work as planned to ensure that we continue to improve services to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield, as we laid out.”