Broken promises on rail: “levelling down, not levelling up”
Tory government is no friend of the North, and no friend to Londoners
Rail unions have reacted to the government’s broken promises over today’s Integrated Rail Plan as “lies”, “smoke and mirrors” and “levelling down, not levelling up.”
The government today published it’s heavily-trailed Integrated Rail Plan. It confirms the widespread rumours that the Eastern leg of HS2 will not now be completed in full, with the section Leeds being scrapped. Also axed is the new rail line linking Manchester and Leeds, with Bradford the biggest loser.
Meanwhile London transport passengers face “managed decline” of the capital’s transport network and a threat of big cuts to bus and Underground services, with funding decisions still unclear.
Mick Whelan, General Secretary of train drivers' union Aslef, accused the government of using "smoke and mirrors" while breaking its promises. "HS2 was meant to be a world-beater... instead, the Tories are letting us down," he said. "This government is a government of broken promises. It has announced Northern Powerhouse Rail an incredible sixty times - and I know because we've counted - and now it puts the project in the bin."
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “This is not levelling up, it’s levelling down.
"The public won't be fooled by Johnson's lies and spin. He promised new rail lines and that's not what is being delivered. He's sold out the north with more broken promises and it's our communities and climate that will pay the price.
“We should be making public transport more attractive. But there are fewer trains running, staff are already facing redundancies and now they’re saying the north will not be getting the improvements they promised.
“Today’s arguments about cost savings expose where the Tories’ priorities lie. We’ve just had COP26, with the government apparently committing to action on emissions. But in the budget they slashed air duty on short haul flights while hiking rail fares. They can find more money for airlines but when it come to our railways it’s all about cuts.”
BBC Breakfast @BBCBreakfastMayor of West Yorkshire, Labour’s Tracy Brabin tells #BBCBreakfast places like Bradford will be short changed in the government’s £96bn plan for rail in the Midlands and Northern England. https://t.co/BHR5wguCQW https://t.co/9daEzN0dw3
At the same time as the Tories have broken their promises to the North, they are plunging London’s transport services into a potential crisis. The TSSA has warned that services will grind to a halt across Transport for London (TfL) unless Ministers agree a long-term funding plan. The current short-term funding deal for TfL is due to run out on December 11th.
“It's frankly disgusting that Boris Johnson is playing Russian roulette with the future of public transport in London,” said Cortes. “We understand that with just a few short weeks left of the current financial support package from the government no discussions are planned about the additional money TfL needs to keep services running, as passenger numbers have yet to recover from pre-pandemic levels.
“Johnson may talk a good game when it comes to dealing with the challenges of climate change but failing to adequately fund public transport shows that his decarbonisation credentials are yet more hot air. The government must step up to the plate before TfL services start grinding to a halt. It’s that simple.”
The Tories today have shown they are incapable of supporting the kind of modern public transport network that’s required for a more dynamic economy and to move to greener forms of transport.
And there could not be a clearer example of how the Tory government is both no friend of the North, and no friend to Londoners.