Confusion over whether the trans-Pennine rail electrification project will happen has caused anger among political leaders in the north.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling caused outrage this week by supporting a new £30 billion Crossrail 2 scheme in London and the south-east, days after a series of rail projects in Wales, the Midlands and the north were apparently axed or downgraded.

A host of politicians have lined up to slam the move as “the betrayal of the north.”

But Colne Valley Labour MP Thelma Walker learned on Tuesday that the announcement that the highly anticipated project had been scrapped may have been a mistake.

At a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority in Leeds, Mrs Walker was told by senior transport officials that Mr Grayling was on holiday and the cancellation announcement had been put out in error.

General Election count, Cathedral House, Huddersfield. Thelma Walker.
Thelma Walker.

She said: “He is now saying that’s not the decision.

“We were told the Crossrail 2 is not confirmed and electrification of our line could still go ahead.

“Is this a government in chaos or is it backtracking in fear of a northern backlash?”

It has been widely reported that Mr Grayling has said the trans-Pennine line will instead get new “bi-mode” trains which run on diesel and electricity.

Critics say electric trains are faster, cleaner and greener.

The confusion comes just four months after the leader of Rochdale Council raised fears that electrification would be scrapped.

Soon after, Kirklees Council Cabinet member, Clr Peter McBride, said he had been personally assured by Mr Grayling that cash to upgrade the line was safe and there were no changes to the electrification plan.

Clr McBride has now hit back after the apparent u-turn, which was touted as being crucial to growing the economy in Kirklees.

Peter McBride

He said: “This confirms a view we have long held that this government wants to reinforce the massive discrimination between the north and south in investment in infrastructure.

“The ratio of capital investment is already £12 in London for every £1 in Yorkshire. So much for the Northern Powerhouse.

“The only way we in Yorkshire will ever get a fair deal with regard to investment is when we in Yorkshire have our own elected government and can be treated equally with every other part of the UK.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This statement from the Transport Secretary will cause widespread anger across the North of England.

“People here have had to put up with sub-standard rail services for decades and will simply not accept that spending billions more on London is the country’s highest priority for transport investment.”

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North think tank has launched a petition calling for the Government to fund Crossrail for the North.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “To approve or back Crossrail 2 ahead of backing the Northern Powerhouse rail programme is really rubbing salt into the wounds.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the Government was investing more than £1 billion in rail across the north and £800 million on new road schemes in the north-west, and no public money has been committed yet to Crossrail 2.