Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has denied cancelling “a single project” for upgrading the rail network in the north of England.
He insisted that all planned improvements to services “are going to be delivered”.
Mr Grayling made the comments at an event in York to launch Network Rail’s strategy for using digital technology to reduce overcrowding and cut delays.
He said he wants the city to be served by Britain’s first digitally controlled intercity railway – with the system being introduced on the Transpennine route.
Today Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling will launch the #DigitalRailway strategy with @NetworkRail. Find out how this will help improve your journeys https://t.co/YScarxFBbS pic.twitter.com/SWq7NFbV2n— Dept for Transport (@transportgovuk) May 10, 2018
In July 2017, Mr Grayling sparked anger after announcing the cancellation of three electrification projects, consisting of Cumbria’s Lakes Line between Oxenholme and Windermere, the Midland Main Line north of Kettering and the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff and Swansea.
Think tank IPPR North claims planned transport investment in London is two-and-a-half times higher per person than in the North.
The capital will receive £4,155 per person compared with just £1,600 in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber regions combined, according to the analysis.
The Government described the figures as “misleading” and “highly unrepresentative”, adding that Transport for London projects should not be included as they receive no central funding.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claimed digital signalling upgrades will have a “limited impact” without more lines being electrified.
Asked whether he understood why people in the North were angry about the amount of money being invested in the region’s transport network, Mr Grayling replied: “I have not cancelled a single project in the north of England. All the passenger benefits that we planned to deliver are going to be delivered.
“Every train is going to be replaced. The Transpennine upgrade is going to be a huge flagship project for the country.
“We’ve just finished the electrification of the Liverpool to Manchester railway line. We’re in the process of electrifying from Manchester to Bolton.
“So I would challenge anybody who said we’re not doing the right thing for the north of England.
“We’re spending more money on transport upgrades in the north of England than any government has for decades.”
Mr Grayling announced in York that all new trains and rail signalling will be digital or digital-ready from next year.
Not since the railway transformed from steam to diesel in the 1960s has a technological breakthrough held such promiseMark Carne, Network Rail boss
Much of Britain’s rail signalling uses Victorian technology, with line-side traffic lights controlling trains.
With more than half of these systems needing to be replaced within the next 15 years, Government-owned Network Rail will install digital versions which will enable trains to run closer together, boosting frequency, speed and reliability.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “Not since the railway transformed from steam to diesel in the 1960s has a technological breakthrough held such promise to vastly improve our railway for the benefit of the millions of people and businesses who rely on it every day.
“The age of a digital railway has today moved from the drawing board and into reality as we reveal a blueprint that will improve the lives of millions of passengers and freight users across the country.
“Today’s commitment is to adopt and roll out new digital technology, for both trains and track, that will deliver faster, more frequent services for passengers and businesses alike, giving our economy a massive boost.”
Network Rail has pledged that 70% of journeys will benefit from digital signalling within 15 years.