"Transport spending an outrage" says MP

July 2, 2009 2:48 PM
Mark

Mark speaking out on behalf of local train passengers

Mark Hunter, MP for Cheadle constituency, this week in Parliament challenged the Government over lack of rail spending in the North of England, with the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and North West allocated only a third of the funding per head compared to London.

During a debate on rail spending in the North of England Mr Hunter asked the Transport Minister why transport spending per head of population in London was £783 while the North East is only given £206, Yorkshire and the Humber £213 and the North West £278. He also raised serious concerns about lack of capacity on the network after the Department of Transport confirmed that of the 1,300 carriages extra carriages promised for the whole of the UK, Northern Rail's allocation had dropped from 182 to 106 and TransPenine Express from 42 to 24. The Government has cut the allocation in half despite the fact that Northern Rail have had no new carriages in the last 5 years while London and the South East have had 580.

Mr Hunter further questioned the Minister about when commuters could expect work to start on the Manchester Hub and whether the Minister would make an assurance that the Woodhead Tunnel would remain available for rail use in the future. He also raised many local rail problems such as overcrowding, infrequency of services and access to stations - particularly Cheadle Hulme which has no access for disabled people or mums with prams, a situation he described as a "disgrace" in Parliament.

Commenting after the debate Mr Hunter said, "The Government has once again reneged on it commitment to improve rail services in the North. We were first promised 182 carriages for Northern Rail, then it was revised to 142 and now again it's been dropped by nearly half to 106. Even worse the Minister won't confirm whether this figure is likely to sink still further.

"This simply isn't good enough - we already have people stuck on platforms during rush hour because they can't get onto packed trains. With passenger numbers on the rise this situation is only going to get worse unless the Government take drastic action.

"It says something about the Government's priorities when we look at transport spending figures - it's appalling that the whole of the North of England, all three regions together, get a third or less of the funding per head of population than London. The North of England is a vital part of the UK's economy, yet the Government treat's its infrastructure like it's a second class citizen. Our rail network is in desperate need of investment and the Government simply aren't interested in committing to it."

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