Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has demanded answers from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, following the minister’s comments last week that full electrification of the Manchester-Leeds railway may not take place.
Planned improvements to Manchester’s Piccadilly’s through-platforms are also thought to be in doubt.
The government last week confirmed that it has shelved plans for the electrification of the Oxenholme-Windermere stretch of railway in Cumbria, along with schemes in Wales and the East Midlands.
Electrification project costs have ballooned, with the Great Western project alone going £1.9bn over-budget, and the government insists that “bi-mode” trains ordered from Hitachi mean full electrification is not necessary.
However, the Manchester-Leeds connection, linking the two largest city regions in the North, has always been seen as a key test in how much the government is prepared to commit to transport outside of London.
Burnham’s open letter to Grayling states: “The electrification of the line across the North is critical to the delivery of your government’s promise of a Northern Powerhouse. The North has suffered from a lack of investment compared to the rest of the country and has had to put up with second class transport for too long.
“A revitalised northern economy will only happen with significant investment in our rail infrastructure. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that both electrification and the enhancement of Piccadilly were firm promises made by your government.”