I was appalled at reports in the Sunday papers that the Government may cut promised Transpennine electrification rather than match Labour’s £10bn+ commitment to Crossrail for the North. Below is the text of my letter sent yesterday to the Secretary of State for Transport on this and the ongoing disruption facing passengers using Greenfield station.
Dear Mr Grayling
I am writing to you to share my frustration with the continued problems at Greenfield station ,caused by the new timetable and the inability of Northern Rail and TransPennine Express (TPE) to deliver it. I am also concerned about the reports this weekend that the Government are dropping their promised plans to electrify the Manchester to Leeds line.
The changes to the timetable have been hugely damaging for my constituents lives. There were warnings from both myself and my constituents about the issues that would arise with the new timetable and unfortunately these were ignored. When we met on 4th June you said that my constituents should be seeing improvements in a matter of days, but when I visited Greenfield Station on Friday 15th June most of my constituents reported continuing chaos; it was clear that the service had only seen a minor improvement with many still affected by delayed trains and making connections. On top of this, I have been continuing to receive correspondence about the impact of the new timetable and the 45 minute gap it has created in peak time services. One constituent has recently wrote to me about how the rail disruption is impacting her son getting to school on time. They have now had to give up on the trains and are having to drive him to closest tram stop to get him to school on time which is adding 35-40 minutes to their day in travelling time. Both Northern Rail and TPE are failing to deliver the new timetable and the service my constituents deserve.
It is good to see that a compensation scheme has been announced by Transport for the North and I will be glad to see my constituents receive a level of compensation in line with the level of disruption the timetable failures have caused since 20th May. When we met I asked that you also ensure TPE passengers are compensated for the service delays and cancellations. Please can you update me on these arrangements? Given the promises you made to me about the imminent improvements I could expect to see and the fact that these have just not been delivered, I believe it is time to give serious consideration to bringing Northern Rail and TransPennine Express’ franchises into public ownership, as is being discussed with regards to Govia Thameslink Railway.
Finally, the news in the yesterday’s Sunday Times that Network Rail were looking to scrap the promised electrification on the Manchester to Leeds line, which services Greenfield, is just adding insult to injury. I was deeply disappointed to note that your statement did not emphatically rule this out.
I echo Lilian Greenwood’s concerns that people across the north, including my constituents, will conclude that the Government has officially abandoned their ambition for a ‘Northern powerhouse’. The Government’s ‘green’ credentials have taken a battering recently; if Transpennine electrification is cancelled it will be the death knell of any claims the Government has to environmental responsibility. The vague promise of £3billion in response to the article is just not good enough. The Transport Select Committee were clear last week, there is strong evidence electrification remains the current optimal solution on heavily used parts of the railway, such as the Manchester to Leeds line. The government has already spent £14.8bn on Crossrail, and is planning to spend between £27 and £32bilion on Crossrail 2. The North needs to see its fair share of infrastructure spending including for my constituents at Greenfield Station.
I look forward to your response.
Given the public importance of these issues I will be putting this letter in the public domain.
Debbie Abrahams MP
Oldham East and Saddleworth