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Grayling grilled by MPs over cancelled electrification schemes

The Commons’ Transport Select Committee said the Transport Secretary had failed to hand over requested documents.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been accused by the chairman of the Commons’ Transport Select Committee of refusing to hand over information relating to cancelled rail electrification projects.

Labour MP Lilian Greenwood said Mr Grayling had “promised to provide us with full impact assessments” for the schemes in South Wales, the Midlands and the Lake District which were axed or downgraded in July last year.

“I’m disappointed that we don’t have the full information in front of us,” she told the Secretary of State, who was recalled by the committee to give more evidence on the issue.

In response, Mr Grayling insisted that the Department for Transport had sent Ms Greenwood the “absolute up-to-date BCRs (benefit-cost ratios)” for electrification.

He claimed other documents, which said that the projects would have had a much more positive impact, were based on overall improvements mostly unconnected to electrification.

Ms Greenwood replied: “We asked for full business case information and the fact is we didn’t have that information in front of the committee.”

The MPs were only able to obtain the documents after they were sent by a third party following a Freedom of Information request, she added.

Labour shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald posted on Twitter: “Chris Grayling has just told the Transport Select Committee that he didn’t volunteer and publish a report because he didn’t want to mislead the committee by giving them a report he didn’t agree with.

“Couldn’t they make their own mind up without his censorship?”

Mr Grayling told the committee it was better to focus on boosting capacity rather than electrification.

He said using bi-mode trains, which operate as either diesel or electric, would provide almost identical benefits to passengers.

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