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Tories betray Wales and the Regions with their Crisis Cancellation of Rail Electrification as Brexit starts to Shred UK Economy.

July 26, 2017 11:58 AM

TornadoFaced with a growing trade deficit, a government deficit that is increasing again, a weak pound and lamentable productivity the Tory government has had to start cutting infrastructure projects.

Back in the happier days of 2012, when Brexit was just a boring rant from a man with a French name in a saloon bar in Essex, things were different. Then we had a relatively strong economy, improving economic statistics and a Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, Norman Baker, who was able to announce new track, new stations, new trains, new lines and, above all, more efficient, carbon-sparing electrification

Now in Brexit Britain, with the screw tightening, the current Secretary of State for Transport, Tory and arch-Leaver Chris Grayling, announced a few days ago the cancellation of electrification of the lines from Cardiff to Swansea, from London to the East Midlands and Sheffield, and in the Lake District from Oxenholme to Windermere.

This U-turn on electrification has serious implications for the InterCity Express Project, originally initiated by the last Labour government. This mysteriously financed project had been expected to have used Siemens trains and be built in Derby. However, just 4 days before the bidding deadline, Barclays Private Equity Group - who had originally been involved with another engineering group which withdrew - re-entered the bidding process as partners to Hitachi and John Laing in a consortium called Agility Trains.

To offset the loss of potential business in Derby, the Cameron government the encouraged Hitachi to build a factory in Co Durham to assemble all-electric trains using imported shells. A number of so-called "bi-mode trains" would also be required for areas with steeper gradients where electric power delivery was insufficent. These are to be built in Pistoia in Italy.

The cancellation of the electrification, however, means that a greater proportion of the trains will have to be "bi-mode". This will involve an extra cost of £400,000 for each carriage and these will have to be built in Pistoia. In addition bi-mode trains are less efficient because they need to carry diesel engines on-board as well as fuel tanks.

So this crisis cancellation forced on the government by the deteriorating economic conditions is not only short-sighted but it:
(a) increases costs (b) reduces the work done in UK (c) reduces efficiency (d) and increases pollution and CO2 emissions

It also reduces the confidence of train operators and the supply chain in the UK government and its long term intentions

Lilian Greenwood MP, the incoming chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, descibed the cancellations as "raising serious questions about the government's willingness to invest in the long-term future of our railways and their commitment to the decarbonisation of transport".

The government has also declined to commit to any of the infrastructure improvements in Network Rail's next a five-year plan.