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Putting the brakes on: Council Leader condemns rail electrification axing

25 July 2017

Council Leader Richard Farnell.

Rochdale Borough Council Leader Richard Farnell has accused the government of showing contempt for northern communities after electrification plans for a key TransPennine rail route were shelved.

The proposed multi-million pound project would provide faster journey times, better connectivity, more services and economic growth across the north west.

Instead the government has ditched its electrification plans for the TransPennine route, which links Manchester Piccadilly with Leeds through to Huddersfield, leaving Councillor Farnell questioning its commitment to future investment in the Calder Valley line, which connects Rochdale with Manchester Victoria, Leeds and other northern towns and cities.

Rail electrification was said to be an essential part of the northern powerhouse, with millions of pounds promised on transport projects for towns like Rochdale.

A recent study by the Institute of Public Policy Research North revealed that spending per head on rail was nearly treble in London compared to the north west.

Councillor Farnell said: "The government has dithered and delayed on its rail electrification plans for over 2 years. It's now clear that the proposal is empty words, spin and deliberately ambiguous.

"It's yet another betrayal for northern towns and the social and economic impact for Rochdale will be considerable. I'm now seeking urgent answers on government investment plans for the Calder Valley rail line, which are vital for the Rochdale borough.

"Unfortunately, there is a pattern of behaviour here. Investment in the north is constantly promised, but never delivered. It's called the northern powerhouse, but the government treats us like the northern poorhouse.

"Transport projects in the south east never seem to get dropped or delayed; it's always northern towns that suffer. When it comes to investing in the north, the government really has gone off the rails."

Further Information

The "Northern Sparks" report produced by the North of England Electrification Task Force assessed the electrification of the Calder Valley line to be the highest priority of 32 lines across the North of England.

Rail report by the Institute of Public Policy Research

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