Grayling urged to put elec­tri­fi­ca­tion back on track

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

A GROUP of politi­cians, cam­paign­ers and com­mu­nity groups have urged Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling to re­verse the scrap­ping of rail­way elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

More than 80 in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions signed an open let­ter to the min­is­ter, hail­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic ben­e­fits of elec­tri­fy­ing rail lines.

Projects in Wales, the Mid­lands and the North were axed or down­graded in July.

The let­ter, pub­lished in The Times, said diesel trains “pol­lute our air, dam­age our health and are bad for the en­vi­ron­ment”.

Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion would boost growth out­side of the South East and help re­duce cli­mate change, the let­ter added.

It stated: “The Gov­ern­ment talks about ‘re­bal­anc­ing the econ­omy’ and the ‘North­ern Pow­er­house’ but con­tin­ues to un­der-invest in trans­port in­fra­struc­ture out­side of London and the South East.”

The sig­na­to­ries in­clude 17 Labour MPs, Green MP Caro­line Lu­cas, en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, trade unions, rail user groups and lo­cal coun­cil­lors.

Or­gan­ised by 10:10 Cli­mate Ac­tion and the Cam­paign for Bet­ter Trans­port, the let­ter’s pub­li­ca­tion co­in­cides with a day of ac­tion on one of the af­fected lines.

Cam­paign­ers will re­lay a gi­ant elec­tric plug on the Mid­land Main­line from London to Sh­effield col­lect­ing names for a pe­ti­tion back­ing elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

Leo Mur­ray, di­rec­tor at 10:10 Cli­mate Ac­tion, said: “Elec­tric trains are a no-brainer. They’re bet­ter for the cli­mate, less pol­lut­ing and bet­ter for pas­sen­gers than diesel al­ter­na­tives.

“By slam­ming the brakes on rail elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, we risk go­ing into re­verse in phas­ing out dirty diesel trans­port.

“Ev­ery­one knows elec­tric trans­port is the fu­ture, so let’s not be the last ones left stuck with a new fleet of yesterday’s trains.”

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