Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The Tories scrapped electrification of the Midland main line before last year's election but didn't tell the voters

David Hencke has blogged about the recent National Audit Office (NAO) report on Chris Grayling's decision to scrap three major railway electrification projects. One of them covered the Midland main line north of Kettering.

The decision was announced in July 2017, just as MPs were leaving for the summer recess.

Hencke writes:
But the real story is that two of the projects were actually  cancelled in Match 2017 but the public was never told. 
As the report  says: 
"In March 2017 ministers agreed to cancel the Midland Main Line north of Kettering and Oxenholme to Windermere electrification projects but did not announce their decision until July." 
” Electrification of the Midland Main Line to Sheffield was a 2015 Manifesto commitment. The Manifesto also stated that work was underway to electrify the railway in South Wales.” 
Hence the deceit.
The public went to the polls in June 2017  and the electors of Nottingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Chesterfield. Sheffield and in Windermere and Kendal were told a lie – the electrification of their service was not going to happen and ministers had trashed their 2015 manifesto commitment. 
The electrification of the line between Swansea and Cardiff was scrapped by Theresa May after the election.
More importantly. the voters of Market Harborough weren't told it either.

And that's not all.

When the Midland main line electrification was scrapped we were promised new "bi-mode" (electric and diesel) trains that would provide  just as good a service.

But as the NAO reports says:
At the time of the decision to cancel in March 2017, officials had advised the Secretary of State that the bi-mode rolling stock with the required speed and acceleration did not exist. They said that the maximum speed of bi-mode trains being built at the time was 100 miles per hour in diesel mode and that the acceleration was not sufficient to meet the timetable of the route. There was also a very high degree of uncertainty over the price of new bi-mode trains.
Or as Hencke puts it more trenchantly:
Such  fast versions of these trains do not yet exist and have never been built for express services. The government hasn’t a clue how much they will cost. They are fantasy trains in the imagination of Chris Grayling. He might as well have announced that the London to Sheffield service was going to be run by Hogwarts Express – it is still in the realm of fiction.

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