Doncaster council calls for action over delay to rail improvements

Bill Mordue
Bill Mordue

Doncaster Council has urged the Government to reinstate its plans for electrification of the TransPennine and Midland Mainline railway lines, saying the project must go ahead if the Government is serious about its intention to build a Northern Powerhouse.

The call to action, which was put forward by Councillor Bill Mordue, in a council motion, appeals to the Government to put funding in place to end the ‘pause’ and confirm a new timetable for delivery of the important project.

The council also wants Network Rail to proceed with the review of East Coast Main Line crossings.

Speaking about the motion, Councillor Mordue, who is also the cabinet member for business, skills, tourism and culture, said:“The Prime Minister pledged to go ahead with the electrification of these railway lines but he has broken his promise to the people of Yorkshire in spectacular fashion.

“It is unacceptable to make a promise of investment immediately before an election and then quickly drop it afterwards.

“That is exactly the kind of action which makes people cynical about national politicians and it raises serious questions about the Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

“The Government must now take steps to put things right and clarify the timescale for delivery of these schemes.”

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said:“Doncaster is a proud railway town with a regional and national outlook. These projects are vitally important for Yorkshire, supporting jobs and businesses both in Doncaster and across the region.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs the public were not misled about railway electrification at the general election, when challenged on when he knew projects would need to be shelved.

He announced to MPs on June 25 that electrification work will be “paused” on the Midland mainline and on the TransPennine route between Leeds and Manchester, allowing Network Rail to focus on completing work on the Great Western Line.

He defended the Government’s decision to pause work on two key routes.

He said: “The first time I was told there needed to be a pause was a week before I made the statement to the House of Commons.”

He added: “The last time a major upgrade was done by Labour, it set out as a £2 billion scheme. It ended as a £12 billion scheme and then was scaled back to a £9 billion scheme, I think.”

And he said it would be wrong of him to say exactly what course of action will be taken until he had received an official report.

Mr McLoughlin blamed Network Rail, saying chiefs should have foreseen problems, and that electrification of the Great Western Line from London to Wales was his ‘top priority.’