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