Call to get Sheffield rail plan back on track is launched

Northern Rail.
Northern Rail.

A campaign calling on the Government to honour election promises and reinstate plans to electrify the Midland Mainline between Sheffield and London has been launched today.

Labour chiefs have included an online petition to put pressure on the Government after it announced that the work would be ‘paused.’

Barnsley MP Michael Dugher, shadow transport secretary, said: “The Tories said they would deliver a Northern Powerhouse, but they have inflicted a northern power cut instead.

“The Government should live up to their election promises, reinstate work on electrification and not pull the plug on vital upgrades.”

The campaign, called Don’t Pull The Plug, also calls for Government to ‘come clean’ about when ministers, and which of them, knew the programme would have to be paused. It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron said objectors were ‘griping’.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s deputy leader, said: “In March he was in Yorkshire promising that it was going to happen, here we are in July and he’s told people who are raising legitimate concerns about major investments to create a strong, prosperous north to stop griping.

“We’ve been waiting for this for years and it is really important.”

Harry Harpham, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, encouraged Sheffield residents to sign the petition.

He added: “The Government should not be allowed to get away with promising these enhancements before the election and then backing out of its commitments just weeks later.”

Transport is a key part of the Northern Powerhouse concept to transform the northern economy.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport minister, has rising costs and missed targets make the £38.5bn plan untenable but that it was a pause not a stop.

Announcing the pause, he blamed Network Rail, saying it should have foreseen the improvements would cost more and take longer.

In the Commons yesterday Mr Cameron said he did not know about the need to pause work until after the election.

He added: “But the point is now we need to do everything that we can to get to the bottom of the overspending and the engineering difficulties that there are.

“Frankly we’ve committed vast sums of money, a £38bn programme in terms of rail.

“And I think instead of griping and making these grievances the whole House should get behind this programme and make sure we get on with it.”

To sign the petition visit CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION