Labour’s new shadow transport secretary has urged Sir Peter Hendy to “look again” after it emerged that the Network Rail chairman’s review of the company’s enhancement programme would recommend the prioritisation of four key projects.
Lillian Greenwood, who was appointed as Labour’s shadow transport secretary this week, said the government risked breaking its promises to those in the East Midlands if it didn’t use its influence to ensure that work continued on the Midland Main Line after Sir Peter’s much-anticipated report into Network Rail is released.
On Tuesday, Construction News revealed that the Hendy report would identify Crossrail, Thameslink, Great Western and the North-west electrification as “priority projects”.
According to a well-placed source, priority status would mean these projects would be first in line for funding and would be given more protection from any future changes to delivery plans.
Ms Greenwood told Construction News: “I don’t know whether Peter Hendy has made his decisions, I very much hope not, but if he has had some initial thoughts I would hope he would have a look again.”
The MP for Nottingham South said that if electrification work on the Midland Main Line did not recommence, the trust between local people and the government would be broken.
She added: “You have seen the strength of feeling with those close to the Midlands Main Line project, some people talked about a commitment being made and then trust being broken and that is certainly what a decision like this would feel like to me.”
“Just before the election we knew that there would be difficulties with the budget, I have been saying this for months and months before the elections, but the chancellor came to Derby and he made promises.
“He now has to make good on these promises and I hope he has made clear to Peter Hendy that keeping promises is also part of the bargain.”
A DfT spokesman said: “Sir Peter Hendy has been asked by the Transport Secretary to develop proposals for how the rail upgrade programme will be carried out. He will submit his final report to ministers later this autumn. It would be inappropriate to speculate on his findings prior to that.”
Ms Greenwood’s comments came as MPs, Midlands council leaders and local business people met in Westminster to discuss the need for electrification in the East Midlands.
Members of the group will meet Sir Peter and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin on 4 November.
Last week, the Department for Transport released the terms of reference for the Hendy report.
It said that recommended projects would have to be deliverable within the resources available to Network Rail and any project that was deemed unaffordable or undeliverable would be profiled for delivery after 2019.
It also stated that work would be prioritised by taking into account interfaces with other infrastructure programmes and those that delivered required benefits to passengers and satisfied rolling stock commitments.
Hendy report’s terms of reference
- The work planned is deliverable within the resources available to Network Rail and its supply chain in any given financial year
- Maximum value is gained through finding the most efficient means of delivery
- The cost for delivery within 2014 to 2019 does not exceed the original funding assumptions for enhancements
- Work that cannot be afforded, or is not deliverable, between 2014 and 2019 is profiled for delivery beyond 2019, pending availability of funding
- Work is prioritised taking particular account of interfaces with other infrastructure programmes and the need to deliver the required passenger and freight benefits, franchise or rolling stock commitments