Government to reduce number of new trains from Sheffield to capital

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MINISTERS have approved scaled-back plans to provide new trains for the London-to- South Yorkshire rail route,

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond gave the green light for a new fleet of faster more comfortable trains to replace the creaking 35-year-old diesel-powered Inter City 125s on the East Coast Mainline.

But the £4.5 billion project has been diluted from when the Labour Government first made the Japanese firm Hitachi its “preferred bidder” in February 2009.

Two years ago, the train programme was worth £7.5bn and would have delivered 1,400 coaches and an extra one million additional seats on the East Coast Mainline alone.

Before the election, the Labour Government scaled the project back to 750 carriages.

And now the Inter City Express Programme – IEP – will deliver an extra 530 carriages across the country. It will mean one new train running in each direction between Doncaster and London every two hours, providing thousands of extra seats daily.

The new trains, which can run on both electric and standard lines, will be delivered between 2016 and 2018.

The rest of the trains running between London and South Yorkshire will be the existing Electric 225s, which are already 20 years old.

Mr Hammond said: “On the East Coast Mainline the 225s will continue to make up the bulk of the rolling stock.

“Capacity on East and West Coast together will increase by more than 11,000 peak-time seats every day.”

MPs on the Transport select committee have demanded the Government does more to “correct regional disparities in transport investment”.

Transport spending per head dropped from £238 in 2006/7 to £213 in 2007/8 in Yorkshire, against a rise from £308 to £315 across England.

Louise Ellman MP, chair of the select committee, said spending on London’s Crossrail project meant “this trend looks set to continue.”

She said: “The economic recession has however had a bigger impact in the north so there is an urgent need for increased investment in transport schemes within and between northern cities – such as the Northern Hub rail scheme – to boost their capacity for economic growth.”

The £530m Northern Hub is a Network Rail plan to improve services between Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.