Labour ‘betrayal’ claims over rail upgrades rejected
26 June 2015
From the section UK Politics
The government insists it only learnt recently that promised rail upgrades would have to be delayed, amid Labour claims voters were “betrayed”.
Labour said it was clear multi-billion pound plans to electrify Midlands and Pennine lines were in “serious difficulty” before May’s election.
They want to know if ministers ignored specific warnings from regulators.
But a Department for Transport source said the extent of the problems became clear “only in the last week or two”.
It was announced on Thursday that major parts of a five-year £38bn plan to modernise the UK’s rail network would be put on hold amid concerns about whether they could be delivered on budget and wider concerns about Network Rail’s performance.
Plans to electrify the Midland Mainline between Sheffield and London and the Transpennine line from Manchester to Leeds are among the projects that will be delayed.
Analysis by political correspondent Ross Hawkins
There were plenty of hints electrification projects were running into trouble well before the election.
The regulator, the Department for Transport’s top civil servant, Network Rail and even the transport secretary himself made that obvious.
What sources deny is knowing schemes would have to be paused before the election, but only admitting as much afterwards.
Labour are demanding clear answers on that point on the record, and from the prime minister himself.
They will seek to make this a battle not only about competence on the railways, but trust in high office.
Ministers say the plans have been “paused” not stopped but Labour is seeking answers over whether ministers were warned before May’s poll that plans were not deliverable.
Rail upgrades are a key part of the Conservatives’ ‘Northern Powerhouse’ strategy and were included in the party’s election manifesto.
Chancellor George Osborne has made investments in transport links and other infrastructure across Greater Manchester and Yorkshire a key element of plans to rebalance the UK economy and create a so-called Northern Powerhouse, to rival London and the South-East.
Labour transport spokesman Michael Dugher said the government had “betrayed” voters and broken a series of promises made during the …read more
Source:: BBC UK