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TSSA Rally for Rail campaign reaches Yorkshire

4 August 2017

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes meets Sheffield MP, Louise Haigh this afternoon as the campaign to reverse the Tory decision to cancel the long scheduled rail electrification of on trans-Pennine, Midland Mainline and South Wales routes gathers momentum.

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling's decision to scrap the upgrading programme as Parliament went into recess, leaving MPs unable to hold him to account, has enraged commuters, businesses, rail unions, environmental and passenger groups and local government leaders across the regions who had been anticipating the benefits of improved rail speeds and inter-city regional connectivity.

TSSA's Cortes met with South Wales Labour MPs Geraint Davies and Tonia Antonazzi in Swansea at the beginning of this week. Their decision to launch a campaign to reverse Grayling's decision has resonated across the Labour Party, with many MPs whose constituencies are being forced to continue to lose out economically because of antiquated rail infrastructure, eager to extend the Rally for Rail campaign in to their areas.

Said Cortes, "Grayling snuck this announcement out because he was trying to avoid accountability for a dreadful betrayal of the regions whose economies and sustainable regeneration programmes are contingent on better, electrified rail links. What began as a conversation in South Wales with Labour MPs on Tuesday has by the end of this week garnered much interest from Labour MPs whose constituents feel kicked in the teeth by this Tory rail U-turn.

"The regions have never needed to be called a powerhouse by the patronising Tories. They know there worth. What they desperately need is their supply lines and transport links upgraded so they can maximise their economies. The cancellation of rail upgrades is nothing less than a continuation of with the policy of "managed decline" imposed on the regions under Thatcher. The Tories days look numbered and this act of rail treachery will cost them at the ballot box.

"I'm delighted to meet Louise in Sheffield today. Leeds MPs Richard Burgon and Alex Sobel are on board to stick up for Yorkshire too. Labour Transport Minister Andy McDonnell has this week committed the next Labour government to honouring the commitment to electrification. So Grayling can run from Parliament but not from the millions of people he's left behind again with yet another one of his bad decisions."

Said Louise, "The decision to cancel the electrification which the Tories promised prior to two general elections is a slap in the face for Sheffield but will come as little surprise to northerners who have been consistently let down by this government.

"Combined with the watered down plans for HS2 it just goes to show that the Tories have no regard and no plan for Sheffield's future and we'll keep fighting this decision all the way."

On Monday Cortes will be meeting Transport Committee Members of the Combined Yorkshire Authority whom he will ask to give this backing to Rally for Rail Campaign.

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