Sheffield rail pause objectors are ‘griping’, says Prime Minister David Cameron

Northern Rail.
Northern Rail.

Prime minister David Cameron said rival politicians complaining about delays to rail electrification in the north were ‘griping’ today.

The Government’s ‘pause’ in electrifying the Midland Mainline between Sheffield and London last week has sparked outrage from MPs, council leaders and local people.

During Prime Minister’s questions today Mr Cameron said the House should get behind the £38 billion rail programme and make sure it progressed instead of ‘griping.’

He also said he did not know of delays, which also affect the Transpennine route from Manchester to Leeds, until after the election.

However several politicians are demanding to know when decisions were made and when discussions took place.

A letter from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Robin Teverson said ministers ‘trumpeted’ the plans on June 17, just nine days before the pause was announced.

He wrote to Lord Ahmad in the Department for Transport: “Given the significant announcement made just days later, which must have been made based on discussion before the 25th June with Network Rail, I believe it is important to be clear about when and how decisions over the announcement were made.

“In particular it is important that it is clear about what information you were given by officials and when, there can be no suggestion that the House was misled, something which I know you would seek to avoid.”

Rail is a crucial part of the Northern Powerhouse concept, which formed a key part of the election campaign.

Documents that emerged this week suggested Network Rail was already preparing to announce delays to its investment plans before the election but did not tell the Government until the end of May.