CHRIS GRAYLING was lambasted yesterday for allocating a miserly 1.1 per cent of a budget to modernise rail networks with digital signalling to the north of England.
The Transport Secretary announced a £450 million nationwide drive to install digital signalling, which enables trains to run closer together, allowing more services to run and more passengers to be carried.
However, the north of England will receive only £5 million — 1.1 per cent of the total — to introduce it .
Announcing the fund at a meeting of business leaders in Manchester, Mr Grayling said: “My goal is simple. I want to put the passenger first and use the newest, best, smartest technology to disrupt their lives as little as possible.”
But the announcement was scorned by the RMT union , which is fighting to prevent the removal of safety-critical guards from trains.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “No amount of spin and rehashed commitments can hide fact that this Secretary of State is both anti-rail and regionally biased.
“His speech today just reeks of hypocrisy and hot air at a time when safety and modernisation are being sacrificed in the names of private profit and austerity.
“Not only has Chris Grayling axed promised rail electrification in the north, he is also compelling his contractors Northern Rail to get rid of over a 1,000 skilled railway guards, provoking a major industrial dispute in defence of rail safety.”
Mr Grayling sparked anger in July by supporting a new £30 billion Crossrail 2 scheme in London and the south-east just days after a series of rail electrification projects in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England were axed or downgraded.
Shadow rail minister Rachael Maskell said: “Digital modernisation without electrification is a wasted opportunity.
“Chris Grayling is spending 8.9 times more on commuters in the south than in the north of our country.”