Louise has today blasted the Government's 'appalling' decision to indefinitely delay a planned £38bn upgrade work to the rail network, including the £800m electrification of the Midlands Mainline.
The work, which was due to be completed in 2020, has now been halted indefinitely and Louise has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, demanding "urgent clarification" on the new upgrade timescale.
Responding to the announcement, Louise said: "What angers me and my constituents most of all, is that our hopes have been raised, only to be dashed after the election. This announcement will raise justifiable fears in Sheffield that this government simply cannot be trusted to deliver for our city."
Louise has called on the Minister to reject reports the Department for Transport knew that works would overrun before the election but chose to withold it from the public, saying: "My constituents, small-businesses and the public will be justifiably angry if the Government's plans to shelve the project were kept from them for many months. This infrastructure project is vital for investment in Sheffield and the people of this city have a right to know if the government can match their promises."
The full letter is reproduced below:
The Secretary of State for Transport,
I am writing in regard to the, frankly, shocking decision to indefinitely halt part of Network Rail's £38bn enhancement programme.
Of particular concern to me and my constituents is the decision, announced in a statement to Parliament on Thursday 26th June, to halt the planned electrification work on the Midland Mainline.
The £800m improvement work on the Midland Mainline was due to be completed by 2020 and the delay will raise justifiable fears in Sheffield that we simply cannot trust this government to deliver for our city.
What frustrates me and my constituents in Sheffield most of all, is that their hopes have been raised only to be dashed when ministers decide they can't fund it after all. This is no way to run a major delivery project like this.
I am angry and appalled at reports from the BBC's Business Editor, Kamal Ahmed which suggest the Department for Transport knew the project was due to overrun last spring, but held off announcing until after the election. The Secretary of State will know that the inward investment so integral to small businesses in our community is dependent on improved infrastructure. It would therefore be wrong for the government to conceal planned delays from those small businesses and the people of Sheffield until after an election. So firstly, I would like to ask if the Secretary of State confirm or deny this report?
Secondly, strikingly absent from your statement was any sense of when or even if the £38bn project will be completed, announced with much fanfare a month before the 2015 General Election. So I am writing to request urgent clarification that it is the intention of the Government and Network Rail to complete the rail upgrade in full, including the electrification work on the Midland Mainline? If so, when does he anticipate such a project will be delivered. I am sure you will appreciate that without a firm commitment and a timetable for reinstatement, today’s decision will be regarded as a scrapping of the scheme entirely.
The Secretary of State will be aware this is a matter for huge concern for my constituents, so I would request a speedy response and given the scale of interest in the story I will be making the letter public for the benefit of my constituents.
Louise Haigh MP