Rail passengers in Sheffield to be 'sold short again' with 30-year-old carriages, claims MP

Sheffield station and, inset, Clive Betts MP
Sheffield station and, inset, Clive Betts MP
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Rail passengers in Sheffield will be 'sold short again' with the introduction of 'new' 30-year-old carriages, an MP says - but the claim has been dismissed by the Government.

Clive Betts says existing High Speed Trains on the Midland Mainline between Sheffield and London must be replaced as they do not comply with regulations on disabled access.

But rather than swapping them for brand new rolling stock, the Sheffield South East MP says 'rail insiders' have told him carriages which are at least 30 years old are likely to be introduced.

READ MORE: Rail journey times between Sheffield and London to increase, MP claims
Mr Betts claims this is the latest in a growing list of decisions which show the Government's 'contempt' for rail passengers in Sheffield.

It follows last year's u-turn on the planned electrification of the Midland Mainline route, and the MP's recent claim that peak journey times from Sheffield to London are due to increase because the needs of commuters in the capital are being prioritised - an allegation transport chiefs have firmly denied.

READ MORE: Sheffield MP urges government to think again on scrapping electrification of Midland Mainline
The Midland Mainline is currently served by a mixture of High Speed Trains and newer Meridian trains, the former of which Mr Betts says are not disability compliant.

"Rail insiders tell me that the new franchise-holder is going to be forced to solve the problem by finding old coaches that can be adapted to make them disability compliant and then run them between the power-cars from the HST fleet," said the Labour MP.

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"So, instead of getting new hybrid trains, we're going to get a hybrid of 40-year-old power cars and 30-year-old carriages.

"Midland Mainline travellers are to be sold short again, as transport secretary Grayling continues to show his complete contempt for Sheffield’s passengers.

"This is just the latest episode in a catalogue of government decisions which give a lie to its claim to be giving fair treatment to the north. It’s an absolute disgrace.”

Responding to Mr Betts' claims in parliament, Mr Grayling said: "I do not know what stories the Labour party has been listening to. The Midland Mainline will have brand new, bi-mode trains delivered as soon as possible."

Asked when this would be, he added: "In the early 2020s, which is years ahead of what would otherwise have been the case under the original scheme."

The route is currently operated by East Midlands Trains, but the East Midlands franchise is due to end in August 2019.

East Midlands Trains declined to comment on Mr Betts' claims, saying the replacement of trains was part of the next franchise so would be a matter for the Department for Transport.