Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has slammed the government’s decision to back London’s Crossrail 2 scheme and cut rail electrification plans for the North.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has today backed the costly Crossrail 2 scheme for the South East, along with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Crossrail 2 aims to improve the infrastructure of London to retain the city’s ‘status as the UK’s economic powerhouse’.
This news, described by the Government as ‘fair to the UK taxpayer’, follows Friday’s announcement that rail electrification plans for Wales and northern England would be cut.
Andy Burnham tweeted: “On Friday, Tories say they can’t afford rail schemes in the North. On Monday, they find billions more for London. Are these 2 things linked?”
In a statement today, Burnham said the Government’s latest decision meant the promise of a Northern Powerhouse was fading.
“This statement from the transport secretary will cause widespread anger across the North of England. With every day that passes the promise of a Northern Powerhouse becomes ever more distant”
He continued by highlighting the poor standard of rail services experienced by those living in northern England.
“People here have had to put up with sub-standard rail services for decades and will simply not accept that spending billions more on London is the country’s highest priority for transport investment,” he said.
“It will not escape people’s notice that this commitment to London today comes just days after the transport secretary cancelled electrification schemes all over the country. It raises the question of whether taxpayers everywhere else outside of London are paying to make Crossrail 2 viable.”
Burnham has also assured that he will be challenging this change in plans, saying the time had passed for when the people in the north would take these decisions ‘lying down’.
He said: “It is interesting that these statements come after Parliament has risen which is denying any real scrutiny of these decisions but when they come to Manchester for their conference I can assure them that they will not be able to avoid these questions.”
Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotherham has also criticised the scrapping of the rail electrification plans, saying that he did not “begrudge” investment in London, but that “balanced investment in infrastructure to support growth in the North” was also needed.
Picture courtesy of NHS Confederation, with thanks.