David Cameron has promised that the “paused” electrification of the railway route between Leeds and Manchester will go ahead as Labour accused him of undermining his so-called “Northern Powerhouse” project.
The Government was forced to halt a £38 billion five year plan to overhaul Britain’s railways last month due to cost and time overruns, a move which saw electrification on the TransPennine route paused.
Labour MPs accused ministers of undermining their own plans to boost the North, with one saying “the only place where a northern powerhouse can be found is in the Prime Minister’s imagination”.
But Mr Cameron said the Government remained “absolutely committed” to pushing ahead with the electrification of the TransPennine line.
During Prime Minister’s questions, the PM said: “I can certainly commit to that.
“This is a pause not a stop and we are absolutely committed to making sure this goes ahead.”
In another answer he added: “You say there is in an indefinite pause, that is not the case, we will be pressing ahead with this investment and I think it’s right that the Labour Party should be supporting it.”
But Labour’s Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) questioned the Government’s commitment to the North.
Mr Madders said: “I was surprised to learn in response to questions from myself and others that the Government doesn’t actually know where the northern powerhouse is.
“So given the recent cancellation or pausing of transport projects in the North, is it not in fact the case that the only place where a northern powerhouse can be found is in the Prime Minister’s imagination?”
Mr Cameron replied: “The truth is the Labour Party ignored the North for years and they cannot bear the fact that it’s a Conservative Prime Minister and a Conservative Chancellor, sitting for a seat in the north-west, that is putting these issues firmly on the agenda and funding them.”