Council boss rail u-turn fury

Northern Rail Class 142 Pacer diesel

Northern Rail Class 142 Pacer diesel

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Leeds City council’s boss has accused the Government of letting down the North over its decision to put a major rail electrification scheme on hold.

Councillor Judith Blake says the decision to shelve the long-promised electrification of the transpennine rail route has echoes of previous failures to deliver major transport schemes for the city.

In a letter, seen by the YEP, she urges Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to reinstate the scheme so it can deliver in time for its original completion date of 2019.

In her letter, Coun Blake describes electrification of the main rail route between Leeds and Manchester as a key part of the vision to turn the North into an economic “powerhouse” and says the city needs “rapid improvements” on transport to maximise growth.

She writes: “Given the history of cancelled or stalled major transport proposals in Leeds, we had hoped that we were moving into a period of greater certainty that would facilitate the seamless delivery of our collective priorities.

“Sadly, the people of Leeds feel this is yet another example of Central Government letting this part of the country down, despite all the encouraging words in recent months and will want to see a revised plan for delivering the economic benefits for the North as quickly as possible.”

Before the General Election, Mr McLoughlin commissioned a ‘task force’ to identify priorities for the next round of rail electrification schemes.

The Calder Valley line through Halifax and the Leeds to York via Harrogate line were among the schemes listed.