With election promises shelved, passengers are facing slow progress on many rail routes, particularly in the north. The state of Britain’s railways is under review

It all sounded different before the election. The chancellor, George Osborne, had promised a northern powerhouse, connecting the cities of the north into one booming economic entity, forged by fast transport connections. The electrification of the TransPennine rail route between Manchester and Leeds and the Midland mainline from Sheffield were two big transport goodies around the corner. And why stop there? Even the prime minister popped up to Leeds to propose HS3, a sequel to the HS2 high-speed rail line, with a vague but exciting promise of new cross-Pennine rail links.

Now, on the packed Friday evening train doing the slow traverse from Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds, scepticism is rife. It is standing room only, and little of that, and most commuters do not appear optimistic they will find a seat. A little more than a month has elapsed since the government announced that its manifesto pledges for vital rail upgrades would not, after all, be delivered. Passengers asked about the shelved electrification plans mainly shrug their shoulders, as if they never expected them to go ahead in the first place. One says bluntly: “George Osborne spoke a load of rubbish. I work in London so I know how fast the trains can be. You’ll never get fast trains up here.”

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS