Government refuses to guarantee much-needed local rail improvements

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has attacked the Government’s refusal to guarantee the long-promised full-electrification of the TransPennine rail route, saying a failure to deliver the improvements would amount to a “betrayal”.

The MP says the latest reports, which indicate the Government is planning to ditch its pledge to fully electrify the route, will “add insult to injury” after months of cancellations, delays and overcrowding in the wake of the timetabling fiasco.

During a House of Commons debate on the subject, Ms Brabin asked the Transport Minister Jo Johnson if the Government intended to be true to its word.

Ms Brabin said to the minister: “My constituents are still experiencing delays, overcrowding and cancellations. In every meeting I have attended with TransPennine, Northern and the Secretary of State, I have been reassured that everything will be okay once we get electrification going.

“The Secretary of State is saying that we do not need to electrify all of every route, so will the Minister reassure the House now that, when electrification goes ahead, it will be the whole route and there will not be cherry-picking of what is most financially viable?”

The Minister’s response was far from reassuring, with Mr Johnson offering a vague and unconvincing response saying the Government will be “prioritising those elements that bring the quickest passenger benefits”.

He also said an announcement will be made later this year on the plans for the TransPennine Manchester to York route that runs directly through Batley.

Ms Brabin, who has been campaigning for a fit-for-purpose rail service locally, later said: “If the Tories want to talk of a Northern Powerhouse with any credibility they simply must move forward with full TransPennine electrification.

“My constituents and millions across the North of England expect and need this investment, anything less would be adding insult to injury.

“If full electrification doesn’t happen, the people of Batley and Spen and millions across the north will rightfully feel betrayed by this Government.”

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