The London Vampire Strikes Again


Ah-ooooo vampire of London, ah-oooooo…

What better time to discuss the Northern PowerHouse project now that parliament has entered summer recess and nothing can be done except to fume and fulminate? So what is the NP? The government says “Building a Northern Powerhouse is about boosting the local economy by investing in skills, innovation, transport and culture, as well as devolving significant powers and budgets to directly elected mayors to ensure decisions in the North are made by the North. We are backing business growth right across the North, and giving our great cities the power and resources they need to reach their huge untapped potential”. The NP had a champion, allegedly, in the former Chancellor and well-known Northerner George Osborne but he’s gone to edit a London paper that mainly criticises the government for decisions he took. He couldn’t even help safeguard jobs in his own constituency let alone help create new ones.

The promises made to fund the NP were £13 billion on transport, £3.4 billion on growth deals, whatever they’re supposed to be, and £70 million on NP schools strategy, again whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. The general idea is a good one to link the major Northern cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. A secondary consideration was also given, condescendingly, to Swansea and Cardiff but it seems no-one is sure whether they count as Northern or not, or indeed count at all. Anyway opportunity certainly knocks, and I mean that most sincerely folks, because “We’ve agreed historic Northern Powerhouse devolution deals, giving the North access to billions of pounds of new funding. In 2017 some Northern regions will gain powerful new voices in national life through directly elected mayors”. Oh goody, more talking shops to stand up to London, I wonder how that will work out?

We have had one or two announcements recently that should help answer that, the first being about Wales whom have been officially designated as “Not in London with some natives speaking a dead language whilst the rest have a funny accent” how are things going for them? Everything is going swimmingly according to Network Rail “Electrification of the railway means quicker and more reliable journeys for passengers and better connectivity for businesses. Electric trains are faster, quieter, longer and greener than current diesel trains. They are also cheaper to run because of lower fuel and maintenance costs.The South Wales Mainline runs from the Severn Tunnel in Monmouthshire, through Newport, Cardiff, Bridgend, Port Talbot, Neath and Swansea. Wales has disproportionately suffered from deindustrialisation and such investment is decades overdue, a strong infrastructure is the surest way to create jobs where they are needed and allow Wales to compete. What’s the reality?

Wales Online reports “Great Western electrification is ‘a stark example of how not to run a major project”. This projection is supposed to link Wales to London and shave 20 minutes off the journey time but “It is disappointing that the UK Government is rolling back on its plans to electrify parts of the Great Western route, with no clear proposals or timetable as to how the work will progress from here”. Welsh Government Economy and infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates continued ““We are pressing the UK Government for confirmation that electrification to Swansea will be delivered immediately after electrification to Cardiff is completed, as promised, in 2018″.  This very optimistic man was speaking in March of this year so how are those promises progressing?  The electrification of the railway line between Cardiff and Swansea has been scrapped, the UK Government has announced, as reported by ITV. Cheer up Wales, I believe your compatriot won something called Love Island.

As discussed above the Northern PowerHouse has newly beefed up democratic powers surely we’ll fare better than Wales? Friday from the BBC “The railway route between Liverpool and Newcastle may not be fully electrified despite a promise by the previous government”. To give you an idea how important that route is it is the only train that directly connects Liverpool and Manchester, one train per hour. It also calls through Leeds and York but, despite the journey time, don’t even dream of wi-fi facilities. Liverpool to Newcastle takes around 3 and a half hours and costs an eyewatering £73 one way. My personal record to travel from Liverpool to the exotic climes of Bolton is also 3 and a half hours, the transport system is chaos and nobody can be sure of getting anywhere except through the grace of God, why is this?

The rightly outraged Manchester Evening News gives us a clue. “London already gets an extraordinary £2,595 per person in publicly funded transport investment, according to analysis by data researchers Statista. Here in the north-west the figure is £99”. It isn’t just electrification that’s delayed either we also learn “Incredibly transport secretary Chris Grayling let slip that not only might it not happen, but that Manchester Piccadilly’s platform extension may not either”. So let’s play along with Tory thinking that these are times of austerity and “there’s no money left”. Yet today we learn the decision to back Crossrail 2, the Department for Transport (DfT) said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had agreed there was “no doubt London needs new infrastructure to support its growth and ensure it continues as the UK’s economic powerhouse”. That’ll be another £30 billion for London at 2014 prices so double that at least by the time it’s finished.

Let me be clear, nobody is complaining about Crossrail 2 I’m sure London does need that investment but not at our expense. We also have HS2 in the pipeline and where will work start and all the immediate benefits accrue? Oh, that’ll be London again. It is at this point I would call for the newly created and elected mayors to get together and demand a rethink and more positive action for the Northern PowerHouse but what’s the point? “Two years ago ministers promised a fully electrified Manchester to Leeds rail line would be ‘at the heart’ of the Northern Powerhouse. After pausing it for a ‘review’, they swiftly un-paused it in the face of public outrage and a campaign by the Manchester Evening News and other northern titles”.

And all those promises are about to be broken again and there’s nothing we can do. The government could of course repromise the promises but all the evidence says they’ll just break them again. Spare me the lectures about how we all benefit from London they’re nothing but vampires who, instead of drinking blood, extract urine on an industrial scale. The Northern PowerHouse is nothing but a con. Ironic how we get fracking investment that we don’t want but not infrastructure we need. I wonder in which city beginning with L all the loot from fracking will be banked in?

Photo Credit: BryanBaugh DevianArt.

13 thoughts on “The London Vampire Strikes Again

  1. ” I wonder in which city beginning with L all the loot from fracking will be banked in?”

    Frankfurt … or Dublin?

    Did you know that the forward looking NER (North Eastern Railway) (who did not allow private owner waggons, the railwayman’s bane) wanted to electrify the line between York and Newcastle… in 1918? Grouping saw to that plan, what with the GNR being a little more conservative. They did get electric signals at York in the late ’20s though.

    Imagine what might have happened had the main line electrification gone through?

    Mind you, the LBSC electrified the Brighton line in 1904… and the Hirschberg to Breslau line was electrified at an electrifying 15kv in 1911.


  2. I’m surprised that we find this wrong, the regions HAVE to be run down, if we are to believe Agenda 21.
    Indeed Agenda 21/ 30 will bring about the centralisation of more of the services, government agencies and working prosperous to London, the rest of us will have to fend for ourselves, like the countries of Africa our betters ‘improved’ in the not to distant past.
    To the ‘we know best’ we in the north will always be backwards and undeserving.
    Of course this is just conspiracy theory, take no notice.
    Perhaps the ‘we know best’ have been watching this chap:
    he puts across some very disturbing facts.

    “My personal record to travel from Liverpool to the exotic climes of Bolton is also 3 and a half hours…”
    Be thankful, Bolton is an absolutely awful place. I know, I live there.


  3. I was stating that Phase two of HS2 will never be built, years ago.
    Looking more and more like I’m right.


      1. At least the Brummies can be in Paris within three hours!

        And they can use the current main line to send more freight trains through the Chunnel to …

        … Europe?

        I can see my argument falling apart as I write.


          1. I remember the time when the British government suggested that the future lay with helicopters instead of railway trains. There was another time they wanted to make the two-line freight railway that skirts the north of London into a motorway.

            Only the study suggested that to replace the trains running at 20 minute intervals, they’d need nose to tail lorries running at 60mph.

            The logistical nightmare of those lorries has to be wondered at… and when a London omnibus needed a stable of eleven horses to keep it moving, you can imagine the dawn of the motorized bus was a godsend.

            Moving Britain on its canals is not moving Germany on its canals; you can berth a 10,000t ship in Basel (having nipped across the border from the German canal system). This can be done in Manchester too. The problem here is that Manchester is the sole example in the UK; I’ll remind you the tonnage passing through Duisburg is 10x that of Bristol (Avonmouth).

            You see, there is a reality out there, but it does take finding.


  4. By the time this lot gets built ordinary people will not be able to afford a platform ticket never mind a train ticket.
    North of Manchester we have National Parks in Yorkshire and Cumbria, and now, after several expansions, overlapping each other. Fracking in one and massive nuclear waste storage in the other should soon get rid of the population leaving the rewilding programme to gather even more impetus.
    Already in Cumbria people are told that their water supply from Ennerdale will have to stop, got to protect the rare freshwater mussels you see. I think the cost is around £300 million or something to transfer the water source, as if that will happen.
    Its all just words, nothing more, just believe the opposite of what you are told and you will be nearer the truth


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