Cameron accuses rail electrification critics of ‘griping’

DAVID Cameron risked a backlash from Yorkshire today when he accused those complaining about delays to major rail electrification projects for the region of “griping”.

David Cameron.

The Prime Minister was defending the Government over its decision to put the electrification of the transpennine route connecting Manchester to Leeds and York and the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and London on hold just weeks after the General Election.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: “The point is now we need to do everything that we can to get to the bottom of the overspending and the engineering difficulties that there are.

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“Frankly we’ve committed vast sums of money, a £38 billion programme in terms of rail and I think instead of griping and making these grievances the whole House should get behind this programme and make sure we got on with it.”

Mr Cameron was put on the spot by Bradford South MP Judith Cummins at Prime Minister’s Questions over whether he was told about the delays before or after the General Election.

He replied: “No, I was told about this after the election as we’ve set out before.”

The Conservatives repeatedly emphasized their commitment to investment in transport in the North before and during the election campaign.

Documents that emerged this week showed Network Rail was already preparing to announce delays to its investment plans before the election.

Ms Cummins said: “I was disappointed by the Prime Minister’s answer. The electrification of the transpennine route formed part of the Conservative manifesto, and was a central part of the Chancellor’s promise to deliver a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

“The Government must come clean with my constituents about whether they knew before the General Election that this work wouldn’t go ahead as planned.

“The Prime Minister dismissed my question as ‘griping and grievances’. When the stakes are so high for the future economic success and competitiveness of Bradford and the region, it is my job to ask difficult questions and hold the Government to account.”