Electric trains please! Did you spot our letter in the Times?

The Department for Transport has slammed the brakes on their promise to electrify the UK’s railways, announcing plans to scrap work across the north, the midlands and south Wales. 

Electric trains are better for the climate, better for our health and better for passengers. So we've teamed up with the Campaign for Better Transport to send an open later to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling on him to reconsider.

It was published in the Times and signed by 18 MPs, union chiefs, council leaders and community groups. And it coincided with communities and campaigners relaying a giant plug along the Midlands Mainline from London to to Sheffield collecting names for our petition calling on the government to back rail electrification.

If you haven't already signed it, this is your chance.

This is the letter, in case you missed it. 

This is no time to cancel rail electrification. Public health, regional prosperity and climate change demand it.

Dear Chris Grayling

Tomorrow, local groups will board a train in London, carrying with them a giant electrical plug all the way to Sheffield. They'll be joined by groups taking similar action in the Lake District.

They’re doing so because sections of the Midland Mainline, Lakes Line and Great Western Mainline they live on had electrification plans unceremoniously scrapped by the Government in July. Plans have also been frozen for rail electrification in the Lake District. Local campaigners want a reversal of this decision - and they are right to.

For years, the government has promised to electrify these sections of track. The reasons are compelling.

First, diesel trains pollute our air and damage our health. By switching to electric trains we can improve the air we and our children breathe. No community should have to put up with dirty air with no end in sight.

Second, this cancellation continues the trend of underinvestment in transport infrastructure outside of London and the South East. We hear the Government talk about ‘rebalancing the economy’ and ‘Northern Powerhouse’ - we need action as well as words.

Third, carbon emissions from transport are rising in the UK - in stark contrast to electricity generation which is rapidly becoming cleaner. Electrifying our railways means our journeys can become part of the fight against climate change.

Thousands of members of the public recognise this, and have signed petitions hosted by 10:10, the Campaign for Better Transport and IPPR North to call for an urgent rethink from government to ensure our railways are fit for the 21st century.

We - local action groups, campaign organisations, politicians and independent experts - join them.

Stephen Joseph CEO, Campaign for Better Transport

Leo Murray Director, 10:10

Clive Betts MP (Sheffield South East)

Jo Stevens MP (Cardiff Central)

Stephen Kinnock MP (Aberavon)

Caroline Lucas MP (Brighton Pavilion)

Luciana Berger MP (Wavertree)

Alex Sobel MP (Leeds North West)

Toby Perkins, MP   (Chesterfield)

Louise Haigh MP (Sheffield Heeley)

John Woodcock MP (Barrow and Furness)

Gill Furniss MP (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough)

Angela Smith MP (Penistone and Stocksbridge)

Alex Norris MP (Nottingham North)

Geraint Davies MP (Swansea West)

Paul Blomfield MP (Sheffield Central)

Jon Ashworth MP (Leicester South)

Mohammad Yasin MP (Bedford & Kempston)

Andy McDonald MP (Middlesbrough)

Margaret Beckett MP (Derby South)

Cllr Huw David Chair of the Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority

Cllr Andrew Morgan Chair of the Cardiff Capital Region Joint Cabinet

Cllr Clive Lloyd Deputy Leader - City & County of Swansea

Cllr Ranjit Banwait Leader Derby City Council

Cllr Stewart Young Leader Cumbria County Council

Cllr Georgia Gould Leader of Camden Council

Cllr Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Bedford Borough

Mick Cash RMT General Secretary

Mick Whelan, ASLEF General Secretary

Manuel Cortes, TSSA, Transport Union General Secretary

Sam Tarry, President of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies

Lynne Stubbings, Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes

Craig Bennett CEO, Friends of the Earth

Emma Bridge, Chief Executive, Community Energy England

Natalie Bennett, Former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales

Doug Parr, Policy Director, Greenpeace UK

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate & Energy, WWF

Bill Tymms, Harrogate Line Rail User Group

Robert Talbot, Lakes Line Rail Users Group

Catherine Hardy, Huddersfield Penistone & Sheffield Rail Users Assn

Cllr Douglas Johnson Sheffield Green Party

Cllr Magid Magid Sheffield City Council (Green Party)

Martin Green Coastliners Rail Users Group

R M Florence, North Cheshire Rail Users   

Liz Scarff   Newcastle Public Transport Users Group

Dr Adrian Morgan, Ripon City Council Rail Reinstatement Group

John Hoare, South Yorkshire Transport Users Group

Lillian Burns, Convenor, North West Transport Roundtable

Chris Dale, Chairman, TravelWatch NorthWest

Laura Williams, Energy Democracy Greater Manchester

Jonathan Atkinson, Carbon Coop

Kim Burrows, Secretary, Friends of Reddish South Station

Cynthia Bradley, Friends of Reddish South Station

John Bradley, Friends of Reddish South Station

Steve Rowland, Friends of Reddish South

Margaret Rourke, Friends of Reddish South station

Terry Rourke, Friends of Reddish South Station

Robert Bradsell, Friends of Reddish South Station

Dave Shaw, Meadows Foodbank

Robert Starling, Lancashire and Skipton Rail Users` Group

Nina Smith, Chair, Railfuture Yorkshire Branch

Alan Jones, Chairman Friends of Denton Station

Cyrus Nayeri, Treasurer Friends of Denton Station

R K Stott, Friends of Denton Station

Ron Douglas National, President, Pensioners Convention President

Mary Cooke,  member of National Pensioners Convention

Kath Aspinwall, Chair, Hope Valley Railway Users Group

Peter Yates, Skipton East Lancs Rail Action Partnership

Anne Ambler, Railfuture; Bradford Rail Users.

Terry French, Secretary, Selby and District Rail Users Group

Reg French, Minutes Secretary, Selby and District Rail Users Group

Tony Hudson, Railfuture member Yorkshire Branch

Tony Plumbe, Chair, West & North Yorkshire Rail Group, Campaign for  Better Transport

Peter Denbigh, Rail Future & Campaign for Better Transport

Mark Parry, Campaign for Better Transport and Railfuture

Ariadne Tampion, Chair, Railfuture East Midlands Branch

Brian L Dunsby OBE, Transport Spokesman, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce

Jim Walker, Railfuture

Hannah Wakley, Leicester Friends of the Earth

Stephen Massey, Healthy Air Leicester and Leicestershire

Chris Rowley   Trustee     South Lakes Action on Climate Change

Aidan Turner-Bishop  Lancashire Campaign for Better Transport

Mags Lewis, Leicester Green Party

Darren Woodiwiss, Market Harborough Green Party

Douglas A Tattersall Friends of Reddish South Station

D Skrytek, Co-ordinator, Derby & South Derbyshire Friends of the Earth

Dave Wadsworth, Derbyshire Green Party

Danielle Paffard, 350.org

Ben Foley, East Midlands Rail Campaign

Phil MacDonald, Sandbag

Lisa Hopkinson, Transition Chesterfield

Colin Harrison, Chesterfield Climate Alliance

Robbiie Young, NUS Vice-President (Society and Citizenship)

River Wolton, Christine Thuring, Julian Briggs, co-ordinators: Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE) Sheffield

Alastair Meikle, Secretary, Chesterfield Cycle Campaign

Dave Dickinson, Lead Campaigner; Sheffield Environmental

Photo: Paul Lucas, creative commons