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Reports claim Manchester to Leeds electrification may be under threat

The Mayor of Greater Manchester says there will be 'anger and outrage' if the government ditches their plan to electrify rail lines between Manchester and Leeds.

Andy Burnham was responding to a newspaper report in the Sunday Times that claims Transport Minister Chris Grayling may pull out of the project because of rising costs.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling Credit: PA Images

People here have been at the back of the queue for transport investment for as long as any of us can remember and this would leave promises of a Northern Powerhouse in tatters.

A few years ago, it was hard to escape Conservative Ministers heading North to promise us the earth. Now, all we get is excuses, back-tracking and Ministers cancelling speeches at the last minute.

At a time when we are looking to phase out diesel cars, it seems that this Government thinks it is acceptable to have diesel trains running across the North of England for decades to come. That tells you all need to know about how they view the North.

If today‘s report is not true, the Government needs to make that clear immediately. Failure to do so will continue to erode trust in the whole concept of a Northern Powerhouse.

The decision to prioritise transport projects in the South - such as Crossrail 2 and investment to support the expansion of Heathrow - is creating a real fear that the North is being pushed to the back of the queue once again. I sincerely hope that is not the case but the onus is now firmly on the Government to prove it.

– Andy Burnham
Credit: PA Images

The Department For Transport say they're committed to improving journeys in the North.

We are committed to improving journeys on the Transpennine route, bringing in state-of-the art trains, longer carriages and more frequent services for passengers. But we want to go further, and expect to spend around £3 billion on a rolling series of upgrades on this key route between Manchester, Leeds and York from Spring 2019. We are working with Network Rail and Transport for the North to determine the best way to achieve these major improvements for passengers.

Network Rail has established options for infrastructure works that could deliver these improved journeys and we are considering these before making further decisions later this year.

– Department for Transport Spokesperson