Latest Rail News


McLoughlin dodges questions about electrification delays

Secretary of state for transport Patrick McLoughlin MP dodged a series of questions in the Commons today (16 July) about the future of the government’s ‘northern powerhouse’ initiative, writes Luana Salles.

McLoughlin was challenged by MPs on when he found out projects would need to be deferred, after Network Rail board minutes from March suggested the need to make joint decisions with the DfT, but he repeatedly gave answers that failed to address either that issue or the latest on the ‘paused’ electrification projects – TransPennine and Midland Main Line.

All he did say was: "The first time I was told that a pause was needed was a week before I made the statement to the House [on June 25]."

Labour MP Rachael Maskell asked when electrification work would begin and when it was due to be completed to ensure that “work has not hit the buffers”.

The transport secretary replied that he was sorry she could not “welcome the £2.7bn investment in InterCity Express” and said: “The new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises will operate fast, high-quality, inter-urban commuters services with more capacity, and improved local services, all with a strong focus on serving their customers well.”

He added that the projects will be different to the “terrible franchise that the Labour government relaunched in 2004, based on nil growth for the northern area”.

McLoughlin continued to avoid clarifications throughout the debate, saying that those who are “talking the north down” are “resentful and bitter about the improvements we [the government] have made”.

Labour MPs for York, Manchester and Heywood & Middleton inquired about the potential effect that postponing electrification of the TransPennine route and Midland Main Line could have on the northern powerhouse initiative.

The transport secretary said: “Rail services in the north, including TransPennine, will see a massive boost from the new franchises that come into effect in April 2016, including a 36% increase in peak capacity into Leeds and Manchester. We are developing plans for even better trans-Pennine links, including electrification, as part of the northern powerhouse.”

 He did not elucidate what effects the cessation of electrification work would have.

Conservative MP Julian Sturdy asked what implications the “pause” might have for the York-Harrogate-Leeds line electrification ambition, to which McLoughlin said: “Many people have commented that there has never been as much investment in the rail industry as set out by the government over control period five. That said, the taxpayer, as well as the travelling public, would want us to get best value for money from our investment, and we will want to consider the points he makes when it comes to CP6.”

He later confirmed that the deferral of works is indeed a “pause” and claimed he looks forward to Sir Peter Hendy’s report, which the DfT has previously said should happen by autumn this year. Sir Peter took up his role as the new Network Rail chair today, replacing Richard Parry-Jones.

A Network Rail spokesman said this week: “Two sizeable projects have been paused while others are subject to a review but there are still hundreds of improvement schemes going on across the country with a new railway in Scotland on schedule to open in a few weeks, as well as newly-rebuilt and transformed stations at Manchester Victoria and Birmingham New Street.”

The Commons transport committee has a ‘one-off evidence session’ with the transport secretary and DfT permanent secretary Philip Rutnam, set for the afternoon of Monday, 20 July.


John   18/07/2015 at 07:57

David Cameron should fire this idiot forthwith!

Add your comment



rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Clapham Junction disaster lessons are ‘fading’ from rail industry following London Waterloo collision last year, RAIB finds

19/11/2018Clapham Junction disaster lessons are ‘fading’ from rail industry following London Waterloo collision last year, RAIB finds

Errors made during the derailment of a London Waterloo train last year showed lessons learned from the 1988 Clapham Junction disaster were &ldquo... more >
Wales and Borders rail to receive £2bn government funding

19/11/2018Wales and Borders rail to receive £2bn government funding

Network Rail Wales and Borders has announced £2bn in government funding to be spent on a project to maintain and renew the Wales and Border... more >
HS2 kicks off the bid race to build Curzon Street station

19/11/2018HS2 kicks off the bid race to build Curzon Street station

HS2 has announced the start of its search for contractors to build its new £435m Curzon Street station. Around four contractors will b... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

09/11/2018Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

Sponsored interview  Anything that brings about safety and time-saving benefits is a valued improvement for the rail industry, which is w... more >
Taking to the skies

30/10/2018Taking to the skies

Network Rail’s commitment to driving innovation is best encapsulated by its latest scheme involving high-definition imagery drones, or UAVs... more >
Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

29/08/2018Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

RTM’s Jack Donnelly sat down with one of the leading minds behind Network Rail’s most advanced and innovative rail maintenance techno... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Elizabeth Line: short-term pain for long-term gain?

13/11/2018Elizabeth Line: short-term pain for long-term gain?

Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigation at London TravelWatch, discusses the deferred opening of the central section of the Elizabeth... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Challenging the perceptions of rail

13/11/2018Challenging the perceptions of rail

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Rail Industry Association (RIA) explains how the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is challenging people’... more >
Data-driven rail

13/11/2018Data-driven rail

Andy Cross, director of Elastacloud, and Lucy Bealing, from the Elastacloud Rail Centre of Excellence, discuss their innovative collaboration wit... more >
Looking ahead to the Williams Review

13/11/2018Looking ahead to the Williams Review

Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, takes a look at the government’s root and branch review of the rail s... more >
Digital Railway: All change on the ECML

06/11/2018Digital Railway: All change on the ECML

Network Rail route programme director, Toufic Machnouk, explains why only a radically new approach to contracting will deliver a better service f... more >