Today, Thursday 20th July, the Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, has announced in a written statement that Department for Transport have cancelled plans to electrify rail lines in the Midlands, Wales and the North, just days after announcing details of the £55.7 billion HS2 route.
In the Midlands, plans to electrify the line from Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham have been cancelled.
Electrification west of Cardiff has been ruled out, with the government proposing use of trains that can run under both diesel and electric power. In the Lake District, electrification plans have also been dropped, with the statement citing local concerns about the appearance of rail gantries.
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said
“It seems that when it comes to rail spending there is a definite two speed system in this country. A handful of places which have already have good links to London are getting HS2, which will make their already fast journeys even faster. But elsewhere, spending on rail improvements is being cancelled. The electric spine of rail improvements promised in 2012 turns out to have been a mirage, while the government is blinded by the shiny glamour of HS2.
“In what is a real kick in the teeth to people affected by HS2, the Government has cited concerns about unsightly electric gantries spoiling the view and disruption to local communities as being part of the rationale for downgrading their plans. But when the same sort of concerns about HS2 have been made by local communities affected by HS2, the Government has basically said tough.”
Joe Rukin, campaign manager for Stop HS2, said
“We have said since the outset of the HS2 project that it will eat up the entire rail capital infrastrucutre budget for years to come, and the inevitable consequence of this will be that other projects which are far more important, cheaper and will benefit more people more quickly will get the bullet as a result. Now, this has been proved and the rest of the country is going to miss out, because Government want to spend billions in areas which already have good services, because that’s the project the construction industry want.”