Burnham slams fresh north-south rail divide

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has come under fire after backing a London multibillion-pound railway scheme days after announcing that rail electrification plans for northern England and Wales are being cut.

Mr Grayling said yesterday that he would work with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ensure Crossrail 2, the proposed north-south line running between Hertfordshire and Surrey, was "fair to the UK taxpayer".

But the statement prompted Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to say on Twitter: "On Friday, Tories say they can’t afford rail schemes in the North. On Monday, they find billions more for London. Are these two things linked?"

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram also weighed in, saying that while he did not "begrudge" the investment in London and the South East, there needed to be balanced spending to "support growth in the North as well".

Mr Grayling came under fire last week for scrapping long-awaited rail electrification plans, with Labour claiming he was "taking people for a ride" and breaking promises on upgrading the routes.

He said using new "bi-mode" trains, which run on diesel and electricity, meant the move to abandon commitments to electrify the main lines from Cardiff to Swansea and Kettering to Sheffield was about modifying plans "where it makes a difference".

Yesterday it was announced Mssrs Grayling and Khan had agreed the need for new infrastructure in the capital, as well as a funding package which "works for both London and the rest of the country".