Sheffield MP brands rail decision a "betrayal"

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THE planned upgrade of the main line connecting Sheffield to London was scrapped today.

The Government announced the electrification of the Midland mainline between Sheffield and Nottingham would not go ahead.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling insisted the use of better trains would make the work unnecessary.

Mr Grayling said: "We are making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era and upgrading services across the country, including in Wales, the Midlands and the North.

“Passengers expect and deserve high quality rail services and we are committed to using the best available technology for each part of the network, delivering significant benefits for those who use our railways.”

Midland mainline electrification was originally due to be completed by 2023 but was one of a number of projects put on hold in 2015 as the Government admitted its rail upgrade plans had hit problems.

A new completion date of 2023 was later set by then transport secretary Sir Patrick McLoughlin.

The Government today said 'bi-mode' trains, which can operate on diesel or electric, would be introduced on the line from 2022 making electrification of the route between Sheffield and Nottingham unnecessary,

The Department for Transport said the trains would "improve journeys sooner, without the need for wires and masts on the whole route".

Journey times between Nottingham and Sheffield will be cut by 20 minutes, the Government said, with a 50 per cent increase in the number of seats available on trains to London at peak times.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: "“This is a betrayal of promises made to Sheffield not once but twice. The Government said that electrification would bring cleaner, faster and more reliable services for passengers. Now they’re saying Sheffield can’t have it.

“At a time when there has never been a greater focus on the impact of diesel fuel on the environment their decision to scrap electrification is incredibly irresponsible.

“It’s an utter disgrace that this announcement is on the last day of Parliament when the decision can’t be properly challenged.”

Baroness Randerson, the Liberal Democrats transport spokeswoman, said "This decision is a betrayal of passengers across the country who would have benefited from these upgraded routes.

"The Liberal Democrats secured vital investment for rail electrification when in government.

"That was then delayed by the Tories and now has been scrapped altogether.

"Much-needed infrastructure investment is being neglected because of this government's obsession with an extreme and damaging Brexit."