The government is “wasting no time” by starting work to transform rail services in the Midlands and the North, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Electrification work on the Midland main line between Kettering, Northamptonshire and Market Harborough, Leicestershire will begin on Thursday, the Cabinet minister said.
This is part of a larger line upgrade to Sheffield and Nottingham.
The project is part of the government’s Â£ 96 billion Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the Midlands and North.
The IRP came under heavy criticism when it was published in November, as it included the removal of the eastern section of HS2 between the East Midlands and Leeds and the inability to use new lines for the entire Northern project. Powerhouse Rail (NPR).
But the government has insisted that it will lead to similar improvements to previous plans, and that they will be delivered faster and with better value for taxpayers’ money.
Speaking on a visit to Network Rail SPL contractor in Leicester to see cable gantry cranes being built for the Midland Mainline, Mr Shapps said it was “exciting to move forward on things now rather than waiting for decades â.
He told the PA News Agency: âWe don’t have to wait, we keep going.
âWe’re going to have more reliable services, we’re going to have better capacity, and we’re going to have modern trains on lines delivered to people much sooner than it would have happened.
“Spikes in the ground right away.” We are not wasting time. We start before Christmas.
Mr Shapps added: “A lot of those who commented when they saw the integrated rail plan last month, I think today should admit that the only thing you can say for sure is is that we are moving forward. “
Work will also take place during the holiday season to speed up the electrification and re-signaling of the railway between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, Greater Manchester.
This is part of the Trans-Pennine Highway upgrade, included in NPR.
Labor shadow secretary Louise Haigh accused the government of “cynical broken promises.”
She said, âPeople will not be taken for fools. They promised electrification of the Midland mainline ten years ago. They promised HS2 to Leeds. They promised Northern Powerhouse Rail. They just can’t be trusted to deliver.