News release: Rail electrification in the North? …Sorry no money for the meter!

2nd October 2017

On Monday 2nd October, “Thomas the Tank engine” and a pre-pay meter, will be helping transport campaigners ask Conservative Party conference delegates to put some money in the electricity meter to help fund the rail electrification programme that the Government has suggested will be cancelled or postponed.

The campaigners will be urging Conservative MPs and Conference delegates to put pressure on Government Ministers to deliver equitable funding for rail transport in the North as well as honouring pledges to fund electrification of regional rail networks and the expansion of platforms and tracks to remove the bottleneck between Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations. The improvements are essential in reducing air pollution, tackling climate change, and reducing overcrowding.

The campaigners are highlighting the following key issues:

* Rail electrification in the North? …Sorry no money for the meter!

On 20 July 2017, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced reductions or cancellations of electrification on three key rail corridors. [3] In a separate statement on 20 July the Secretary of State for Transport also appeared to suggest that the TransPennine route may be unlikely to be fully electrified and instead a ‘smart’ approach could be taken using bi-mode locomotives.

Electric trains are better for the climate, better for our health and better for passengers. Cleaner, greener, faster travel offered by electric trains should be accessible to people across the country, not just those in London and southeast England.

The Government is failing to meet its air pollution and climate change emissions targets. Some 18 months ago, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom promised a 100% emissions reduction to keep the UK on track with its obligations under the 2015 Paris climate deal.  But ministers have failed to enshrine that 100% cut within the Climate Change Act. [4]

Transport is the fastest growing source of climate change emissions. Road transport is responsible for nearly one quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike other parts of the economy, where significant progress has been made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, road transport emissions have actually increased by 1% since 1990.

* Manchester Piccadilly platform 14 ¾ ?

The Transport and Works Act Order for new platforms 15 and 16 at Manchester Piccadilly were submitted for consideration almost two years ago and we have still not heard from Government whether this work will go ahead.  Platforms 13 and 14 are congested today and passengers often suffer delays due to overcrowding. It is planned that longer trains (more carriages) will use these platforms which will result in dangerous overcrowding.

Cancelling the additional platforms and track widening between Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations would fail to remove the bottleneck in one of the key connecting rail routes.

* CrossRail for the North: £?   CrossRail2 for London: £31 billion (and counting).

Days after announcing the cancellation or postponing of key regional rail programmes [1] the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling signalled support for a £31 billion CrossRail2 programme for London. [2]

Developing a ‘Crossrail for the North’ – is key to rebalancing the UK economy and in creating a country that works ‘for everyone’. The Government needs to deliver equitable rail investment in the north of England to deliver ‘CrossRail for the North’ before it spends £30+ billion on CrossRail2 for London.

* Fair funding for transport in the North

In 2017, it was estimated that transport investment in London would be £1,940 per person compared to £190 in Yorkshire and the Humber, £220 in the North East and £680 pr person in the North West £680. [5]  The rail announcements raise important questions of Government accountability.  Investment in northern transport connectivity was included in the Conservative Party election manifesto – Crossrail 2 was not.

Over 87,000 people have signed a petition calling on the transport secretary to:

1) Pledge his immediate backing for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme including a new state-of-the-art 30-minute rail link between Manchester and Leeds – a ‘Crossrail North’;

2) Make an immediate commitment to at least £59 billion ‘catch-up cash’ over the coming decade to support the transport priorities being developed by Transport for the North;

3) Give Transport for the North the same powers as those enjoyed by Transport
for London so that it can also raise private finance towards its own transport priorities. [6]

Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth co-ordinator said:

“Economic success, clean air and low carbon emissions are just as much a right for Northerners as they are for Londoners. It is shameful that the Government is rowing back on its Manifesto pledges to fund major public transport improvements in the region.

We urge all MPs and delegates to let the Secretary of State for Transport know this is unacceptable and that we need the money we deserve to ensure ‘Thomas the Tank engine’ moves into the 21st Century – away from diesel and substandard railways and onto a low carbon, clean and efficient rail network.”



See Flickr account for a selection of photos.

Contact for comments:

Pete Abel, Manchester Friends of the Earth. Mobile: 07951 642858

Ali Abbas, Manchester Friends of the Earth. Mobile: 07786 090520

Notes to editors



[3] The rail networks due to be electrified under Network Rail Control Period 6 (2019 to 2024) are:

* Reduced scope for North West Electrification, no electrification Oxenholme to Windermere;
* Reduced scope of Midland Mainline Electrification to Kettering and Corby only, no extension to Nottingham and Sheffield; and
* Reduced scope of Great Western Electrification to Cardiff only, no extension to Swansea




[7]  Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations.

Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Download campaign leaflet (pdf)

Download campaign leaflet (pdf)