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Labour: Scrapping rail electrification 'will increase journey times'

People walking down the platform at Manchester Piccadilly railway station in Manchester Photo: Press Association

Scrapping rail electrification projects will lengthen journey times, increase carbon emissions and raise the cost of running the network, the Labour Party has warned.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced last month that plans to electrify lines in the North, Wales and the Midlands have been cancelled or downgraded.

Labour claimed this will increase the duration of journeys such as between Manchester and Liverpool by nearly half an hour and between Leeds and Newcastle by over 20 minutes.

It also puts the estimated 19-minute journey time saving from new trains between Swansea and London at risk, according to the analysis.

Electrification can cut CO2 emissions by 20-30% compared with diesel trains and slash maintenance costs by a third, Labour said.

The party also accused the Government of undermining the Crossrail for the North project - boosting east-west rail services in northern England - as the route will not be fully electrified.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "Pulling the plug on electrification shows the Tories' disregard for Wales and Yorkshire, which will continue to suffer from under-investment, and proves the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse are just more empty slogans from this Government."

"The Tories are trying to pull the wool over people's eyes by claiming that diesel bi-mode trains will deliver the same benefits as electrification, despite saying for years that failure to electrify the network costs more in the long run, causes more pollution, worsens air quality, lessens capacity and makes services slower and less reliable.

"Not only will Labour deliver the promised electrification, we will address the imbalance in transport infrastructure spending, committing to building a Crossrail for the North and enhancing and expanding the rail network in order to drive economic growth and re-balance our economy."

– Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald

Mr Grayling sparked anger by supporting a new £30 billion Crossrail 2 scheme in London and the South East just days after the electrification announcement.