MP backs campaign to restore electrification of London rail route

GLORIA DE PIERO -- "this is bad for passengers and the local economy".

GLORIA DE PIERO -- "this is bad for passengers and the local economy".

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A campaign that calls on the government to reinstate plans to electrify the main train route that connects London to the East Midlands has been backed by Ashfield’s Labour MP, Gloria De Piero.

Just a few weeks after the election, the Conservative government announced that it was temporarily suspending the £500 million electrification upgrade of the Midland Mainline, whose services link to Ashfield and Mansfield’s Robin Hood Line.

But Ms De Piero has accused the government of reneging on pre-election promises. She has labelled the decision bad for local train passengers and bad for the Ashfield economy. Now she is fully behind the ‘Don’t Pull The Plug’ campaign and petition that urges the government to think again.

“The Prime Minister has broken his promise to electrify key rail lines in the Midlands and the North,” said the MP.

“The Tories should now do the right thing and live up to their election promises, reinstate the work on electrification and not pull the plug on these vital upgrades.”

The five-year-plan to electrify the route from London St Pancras to Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield was originally announced in 2013.

Ministers said their strategy was “built around a rolling programme of electrification”, which would “increase regional and national cdonnectivity and support economic development”. The North TransPennine route, which connects Manchester to Leeds and York, would benefit as well as the Midland Mainline.

Even the Conservative Party manifesto for the general election said: “We will will back business by....electrifying the Midland Mainline, putting the Midlands at the centre of a modern, inter-connected transport network for the UK.”

However, the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, said in June that the work was to be ‘paused’, while the route was improved in other ways to provide a better, speedier service in the short term.

Mr McLoughlin did promise that electrification remained “part of our future plans”. But Ms De Piero is demanding a real commitment from the government that the electrification project will be delivered eventually, and within a clear and published timetable. In the meantime, she is urging Ashfield residents to sign the petition to put pressure on Mr Cameron and Mr McLoughlin.

“I encourage everyone in Ashfield to get involved and add their name to the petition,” she said. “David Cameron should not be allowed to get away with promising these enhancements before the election and then going back on them before the dust has even settled.”

To sign the petition, go to www.labour.org.uk/dont-pull-the-plug.