Burnham calls for electrification commitment

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.”

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Can I remind Andy Burnham that it was the Labour Party which shelved the Big Bang on the Metrolink, but found billions for Crossrail . I agree with his rage at Grayling, but let’s face facts, it was no different when he was in the cabinet.

By Elephant

I guess he shouldn’t bother trying to fight the case for the region then.

By Anonymous

This is very, very bad news for the north. The solution DfT envisages are electric trains with huge diesel engines underneath. This combines the disadvantages of both modes – under the wires they have to lug about ten tonnes of diesel engine and fuel around – very inefficient. On diesel power they are just under-powered diesel units with all the problems of noise (both on the train and for nearby houses), pollution (particulate and oxides of nitrogen) and inability to accelerate quickly unless they use as much fuel as a space rocket. We cannot accept this.
And BTW, Labour DID authorise the Metrolink Big Bang, although the party looks very different now.

By Peter Black

Eventually they did after a sustained and angry campaign from the MEN, but there were huge delays. They also promised a link to the Ethiad for the Commonwealth games which they did not deliver and they cancelled the Supercasino, throwing three thousand jobs into the gutter in the most deprived part of the city. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were no friends of the North West Peter. Daresbury, The National stadium, the Merseyside Metro. The list of betrayals is endless.

By Elephant

A big benefit of electrification was cutting down on track maintenance costs because electric trains are lighter. Now they will be lugging round engines and fuel. OK on the flat perhaps but over mountains? Yet another policy swerve after two decades of stop go on electrification.

By Ian Wray

Lets not turn this into a pathetic party political argument, hey? Whatever the party in power, the same familiar failings always seem to rear their head, illustrating the disconnect between Westminster and Whitehall and the rest of the country (unless that is you are needed to prop up a minority government). The only thing Westminster cares about at the moment is working out how to limit the damage of Brexit whilst people attempt to go about their daily commute, or conduct business on clapped out infrastructure.

The creation of Transport for the North (TfN) cannot come soon enough but the question will be, how will it be funded?

By Percy Pacer

Remind him all you like, Elephant. It has absolutely no bearing on the current situation whatsoever.

By Raj

Raj I am afraid that you are wrong. The Blair administration disconnected from the North West totally, with the exception of Mediacity and then the only jobs locals got were menial ones. He and that cabinet are single handedly to blame for today’s low wages and anger felt in regional Britain. He took the North for granted. It does have a bearing on today, because big infrastructure projects need to be started and under him, very little was achieved outside the South East. He carried on where Thatcher left off, running the country for the bit where he now lives.If something is not done sharpish, we will be having this debate in 50 years time. Andy Burnham is sincere I am sure,but he was in Blair’s entourage. In 2017 in the 5th biggest economy in the world, we have 7 of the ten poorest regions in Northern Europe. Do you think that is acceptable?

By Elephant

Upgrading existing lines is disruptive and not at all cost effective.

Source: Anyone who has ever argued for HS2.

By Mike

Elephant – give it a rest. This has nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with how dysfunctional the British political system is as a whole.

By Percy Pacer

Meanwhile Grayling has publicly committed to the £30bn Crossrail 2? Transport spending is looking more London-centric than ever before.

By Matt

Complacency and acceptance so typical of how people are in this country. Nobody ever wants to raise their voice about things that matter. If it was some wood in Cheshire they were building a runway through, you would all be singing Kum ba yah and forming human chains. The people of Yorkshire and Humberside have less than £200 per head spent on their transport needs. The people of London just shy of £2000 per head spent on theirs. Nothing to do with the political system. All to do with unbridled prejudice.

By Elephant

Elephant – you don’t get it. This has nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with the disconnect between Westminster as a whole and the rest of the country. No political party is interested in the transport needs of the North.

By Percy Pacer

DISGUSTED that they can find funding for Cross Rail 2 but treat us like second class citizens!

By Schwyz

What I don’t get Percy is how the GNP of the Netherlands can be found overnight to bail out the City of London in 2008? How 250 billion pounds was found to prop up the pound after the Brexit vote? but there seems to be a huge difficulty in providing a few hundred million to electrify a thirty mile train track between Manchester and Leeds,which was a manifesto pledge. if there is another definition other than betrayal,please enlighten me.

By Elephant

It’s a betrayal but its not a party political issue because none of the main parties are really interested in investing in the north. This is an issue of the over centralisation of political and media power in one place.

By Percy Pacer

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