Campaigners fighting the HS2 scheme say ditching plans for electrification of other parts of the network show the UK now has a two-tier railways system.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed yesterday (July 20th) that a number of routes in the Midlands, Wales and the north would not be upgraded.
The Government instead plans to introduce trains that can run on diesel and electric instead.
Penny Gaines, from the Stop HS2, group says the move asks even more questions of the controversial £55billion high speed rail route linking London with the north via Birmingham.
“It seems that when it comes to rail spending there is a definite two speed system in this country,” she said. “A handful of places which have already have good links to London are getting HS2, which will make their already fast journeys even faster.
“But elsewhere, spending on rail improvements is being cancelled. The electric spine of rail improvements promised in 2012 turns out to have been a mirage, while the government is blinded by the shiny glamour of HS2.
“In what is a real kick in the teeth to people affected by HS2, the Government has cited concerns about unsightly electric gantries spoiling the view and disruption to local communities as being part of the rationale for downgrading their plans. But when the same sort of concerns about HS2 have been made by local communities affected by HS2, the Government has basically said ‘tough’.”
Mr Grayling said a new generation of dual-operating trains meant widespread changes to routes was not necessary.
“Thanks to this new technology disruptive electrification works will no longer be needed,” the Transport Secretary said.
“Passengers will benefit sooner and experience less disruption compared with putting up intrusive wires and masts along routes where they are no longer required.”