Liberal Democrat News 20th July 2012
Historic boost for UK railways
The announcement this week by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of more than £9bn investment in the rail industry has delighted Liberal Democrats around the country. The announcement underlines the Coalition government’s determination to provide a modern efficient railway system for both passengers and business.
The package represents £4.2bn of new investment in 2014-2019 on top of the £5.2bn already committed to rail in the 2014-19 period.
For decades UK railways have been neglected. Over the last 50 years the network has halved but, since 1980, passenger journeys have doubled. The result is a less efficient and more expensive rail network than our European counterparts.
“This is the biggest expansion in railways in over 150 years,” said Nick Clegg.
“Whilst we inherited a deficit greater than any in our nation’s peacetime history, we knew that we had to give the country the boost it needs, to build great railways and make journeys better for the millions of hard working people who use the train every day.
“The ‘Electric Spine’ will make a significant difference for passengers linking London, the Midlands and Yorkshire in a much more efficient rail line, connecting the South and North more effectively than ever before.
“As someone who cares deeply about the environment, the opportunity to dramatically expand rail, a greener form of transport than aviation or road is very exciting indeed. This investment will help people to choose trains over cars, reduce carbon emissions and provide a rail system that is faster, more reliable and greener.”
Transport Minister Norman Baker agreed:
“We inherited a system in which Wales is the only country apart from Albania in Europe which has no electrified railway. There’s been a massive investment programme going on already in the railways, everything which is on the stock has been taken forward and more besides. So this is just yet another batch of investment programmes for the railways.”
Lib Dem MPs across the country are thrilled about the investment. Manchester MP John Leech has welcomed the full funding of the Northern Hub which would see 700 more trains a day running between towns and cities across the north, with space for 44 million more people to travel by rail each year.
“The announcement would mean more than £4bn of economic growth and up to 30,000 jobs created and is vital in bridging the North/South divide,” he said.
Sir Alan Beith will see an investment of £240m in improvements to the East Coast Main Line from the Scottish Border to London.
“These are improvements we have been pressing for and I am delighted they are included in the programme,” said the Berwick MP. “Good rail connections are one of Northumberland’s major plus points in attracting businesses to our area, and improvements will strengthen that.”