Government Accused Of Cover Up Over Scrapping Of Promised Network Rail Schemes

Labour has accused the government of a cover up after the Department of Transport refused a freedom of information request regarding when it was told rail upgrades promised in its election manifesto would be scrapped.

According to Network Rail, the DfT was informed in March that that two major schemes would be “deferred.”

In June, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said schemes involving the London to Sheffield and TransPennine routes would be suspended indefinitely. Responding to a request from Labour, Mark Carne, the chief executive of Network Rail, said they informed the DfT “In mid-March 2015” that “decisions may need to be made in the coming months about the deferral of certain schemes.”

On Friday, Labour’s Shadow Rail Minister Lilian Greenwood, said: “Ministers have covered up the extent of Network Rail’s problems for months and they are still failing to come clean with passengers and the public.” She added: “There are serious questions to answer over the conduct of senior Conservative politicians who promised to deliver vital electrification projects during the election, only to then shelve them once the ballot boxes had closed.”

She said that there was “no doubt” Tory ministers knew that the rail projects “faced the axe” but chose to “mislead voters in the Midlands and the north instead of admitting the truth.”

The DfT refused to respond to the BBC’s request to the release of information “in line with an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act.” The DfT said: “It is important that ministers and officials have the opportunity to consider the assessment before confirming the next steps."

"The information in question has not been published or released, in line with an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that allows a free space for the consideration of information relating to the formulation or development of government policy,” the DfT added.