Cooper attacks Government on Yorkshire rail record

YVETTE Cooper will call on the Government to honour its pledge to scrap outdated diesel trains on Yorkshire’s rail network after plans to electrify key routes were shelved.

Yvette Cooper

The Labour leadership hopeful will urge Ministers to promise their pre-election commitment to scrap pacer trains, known as ‘buses on rails’ will be delivered.

Her intervention follows the Government’s decision last month to put the electrification of transpennine routes and the Midland mainline on hold linked to a shake-up of Network Rail.

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Ms Cooper and the other candidates for the leadership and deputy leadership of the Labour Party will take part in a hustings in Leeds today.

The Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP said: “Pacer trains were brought in as a temporary measure in the 1980s and were supposed to last no more than 20 years - yet they are still in use a decade later, despite not being fit for purpose.

“The Government promised to replace them - to go back on this would be an absolute betrayal of the North and we must not let them get away with it.

“Cameron and Osborne’s record on delivering the pledges they’ve made to northern cities and towns is abysmal - highlighted yet again recently when Patrick McLoughlin attempted to explain away the Tories’ decision to halt railway line upgrades in the north. Already they have broken their promise of the Transpennine route.

“I will be pressing to ensure the essential improvements needed for our railway services are delivered, rather than kicked into the long grass and that these improvements are high quality.”

Business Secretary Sajid Javid was put under pressure yesterday to explain why a revised timetable for electrification was not included in the Government’s new plan to improve productivity in the UK economy.

Mr Javid told the BBC’s Today programme: “Infrastructure, whether it is rail or road, aviation, digital, is hugely important to boosting productivity and when it comes to rail we will be setting out our plans and of course you need to make sure those plans are done in detail, that they can be delivere, that we’ve got proper funding for them and we have now because we’ve got this growing economy.”

He continued: “When it comes to rail there’s a lot that we can do there’s huge demand and we need to look carefully at every proposal.

“What we are making clear today is that this problem has been recognised, it’s been a long running problem, we haven’t built enough rail capacity, road capacity, aviation capacity and now we need to get on with it.”