TSSA accuses Shapps of “making it up as he goes along”

Railway tracks with platform in view and lighting on. Early morning sky.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has accused Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, of “making it up as he goes along” when it comes to rail policy.

The moves follows Shapps’ claims that work starting this week to electrify a tiny part of the Midland Main Line (MML) - Kettering to the next station at Market Harborough - just 9 miles - was as a result of pledges made in his Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) announced on 18 November 2021.

However the whole Midland Main Line was originally confirmed by the Coalition government in 2012, only for the Tory Government to cancel it north of Kettering in July 2017.

Shapps is quoted as saying “the electrification of the Midland Main Line shows we’re not wasting any time. We’re getting on with our £96bn Integrated Rail Plan.”

Commenting, Cortes said: “The electrification of a small part of the Midland Main Line was approved back in February 2019 as a short add-on to the electrification of the line from Bedford to Kettering.

“Shapps is knowingly misleading the public by asserting that the start of this work is in fact the start of his plan to electrify the whole Midland Main line to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.

“He says he’s not wasting time – what a cheek! Had it not been cancelled by the Tories it would have been up and running by now.

“Shapps just cannot contain his desire to make it up as he goes along. He is promising undeliverable journey time savings from Sheffield and Chesterfield to London as a result of electrification, which will in no way make up for the loss of the eastern leg of High Speed 2 (HS2).

“It is clear that Shapps’ Integrated Rail ‘Plan’ contains a string of wild assertions that have no basis in fact. It is no wonder that he has no credibility with rail engineers and professionals - they just don't believe him.

“I recently wrote to Shapps over media reports suggesting the Treasury had withdrawn funding for electrification projects. Since then I have not heard a peep.

“So let’s not be shy in telling it like it is. No amount of spin or bluster can cover up the truth – the IRP is about levelling down.

“You can’t believe Shapps or the Tories when it comes to our railways. They simply cannot be trusted.”