Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald has said that Labour would resurrect plans to electrify the Midland Main Line if it came to power.
Mr McDonald made his comments during a visit to Derby this morning, which included a tour of the Litchurch Lane factory of train-maker Bombardier, as well as other East Midlands companies in the rail industry supply chain.
Back in July, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that the Government had pulled the plug on the £1.1 billion project to fully electrify the Midland Main Line – the main rail route between Derby and London.
The project would have seen a 70-mile section of the route electrified between Kettering and Chesterfield.
Instead, the Government is favouring replacing diesel trains that currently operate on the line with “bi-mode” trains, which can switch from electric to diesel mid-journey.
The decision to scrap electrification came as a big disappointment to those in Derby and the wider region who had been campaigning for the work to take place. Full electrification would have resulted in quicker, greener and more reliable services.
But Mr McDonald said that Labour would push ahead with electrification, arguing that the East Midlands region’s rail infrastructure is deserving of more investment.
According to figures compiled by East Midlands Councils, the region has the lowest level of per capita rail expenditure in England. Spending is £91 per capita in the region compared to £746 per capita in London and a national average of £251 per capita for England.
Andy McDonald (centre) pictured with Bombardier Transportation’s UK managing director Richard Hunter and Shadow Rail Minister Rachael Maskell
The East Midlands also has the lowest level of investment in public infrastructure at £352 per capita compared to £1,079 per capita in London and a national average in England of £582.
Mr McDonald said: “The East Midlands has some of the lowest levels of public expenditure in the UK particularly in rail.
“That’s why Labour is committed to electrifying the Midland Main Line and delivering rail upgrades to maximise the benefits from the HS2 station at Toton.
“Cities such as Leicester, Derby and Nottingham need rail modernisation to drive economic growth, create jobs and attract inward investment.
An artist’s impression of how the HS2 station and surrounding area at Toton could look
“Conservative MPs in the East Midlands including the former Transport Secretary have broken their promises on transport to the region.
“Only Labour will deliver the transport and regional investment the East Midlands’ needs.”
The latest business news in our area
Speciality chip shop move in city centre
80 jobs coming after Roll-Royce move
Old Bell Hotel opening soon
Derby cabbies get licence help
One of the companies that would have the capability of supply bi-mode trains is Derby’s Bombardier, which this week secured two new deals with West Midlands Trains and c2c worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Speaking about his visit to the factory, Mr McDonald said: “This region has long been a UK centre for manufacturing excellence, so I was delighted to see the superb production facilities at Bombardier and the skilled workers who build the trains which will deliver the rail services of the future.
“I was also pleased to meet important rail supply chain companies such as Porterbrook, Datum and Resonate.”
Source: Derby Telegraph