McLoughlin unveils rail electrification timetable

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Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin today set out plans to restart electrification of key rail routes in Yorkshire.

Work to electrify the north Trans-Pennine route connecting York to Manchester through Leeds will now be completed by 2022 and the electrification of the Midland Mainline to Sheffield will be finished the following year.

On the original timetable Trans-Pennine electrification was due to be finished by 2019 and Midland Mainline by 2020.

Mr McLoughlin sparked anger in June when he announced plans to electrify both routes would be “paused”.

He blamed failures at Network Rail but the Government was criticised for making the announcement just weeks after the General Election when the Conservatives had placed huge emphasis on its promises to invest in infrastructure in the North.

Mr McLoughlin said today: “As a one nation Government we are making sure every part of Britain benefits from a growing economy.

“Connecting up the great cities of the North is at the heart of our plan to build a Northern Powerhouse. This Government will see the job through and build a better, faster and more reliable railway for passengers in the North and Midlands.”

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Lilian Greenwood said: “It’s disappointing that these projects will be delivered years late, holding back the economies of the Midlands and the North while schemes in other regions go ahead as planned.

“We warned Ministers for months that these projects were at risk, but they cynically waited until after the election to withdraw support.

“Their incompetence has led to a damaging hiatus, which has seen construction job losses and resources shifted to other projects, it is going to take longer and cost more to electrify these lines. Passengers will not tolerate any further delays to these vital projects.”

The decision to restart work follows a three month review by new Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy.

He said: “The temporary pause in the programme has given us the space to develop a better plan for passengers. People can expect more services and faster journeys.

“We face some difficult challenges, and there is more work still to do, but the Secretary of State’s decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify Trans-Pennine and Midland Mainline”.