Hampshire's £1bn rail improvement plan would be '˜destroyed' under Labour

A BILLION-pound plan to transform the county's rail links to London would collapse if Labour came to power, a Tory minister has claimed.

Monday, 15th May 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 15th May 2017, 9:37 am
Transport minister Chris Grayling with Portsmouth South Conservative candidate Flick Drummond at the new Hard Interchange in Portsmouth. Picture Ian Hargreaves (170615-1)

Transport secretary Chris Grayling visited Portsmouth’s new Hard interchange to urge people to vote Conservative and avoid ‘coalition chaos’.

He is the second Tory heavyweight in as many weeks to hit the campaign trail in the city supporting Portsmouth South candidate, Flick Drummond.

During his trip on Saturday, Mr Grayling warned that a government led by Labour head Jeremy Corbyn would spell disaster for ambitious plans to build a high-speed rail link between Portsmouth and the capital.

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It comes just days after Labour announced in its manifesto plans to renationalise rail, mail and energy firms.

In a scathing attack on the Labour leader, Mr Grayling said: ‘Labour hasn’t got a clue. They haven’t done their sums.

‘They claim renationalisation will cost nothing but they’re going to have to buy all the trains back from the public sector which is going to cost them billions of pounds.’

But Labour’s candidate for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan has hit back and branded the Tory minister ‘out of touch’.

He said a lack of investment had led to ‘chaos for commuters’ with plans to improve reliability having been ‘delayed for years’.

He added under the Tories’ rule trains had become overcrowded and unreliable.

‘Sadly Mr Grayling, parachuted down from London, has shown yet again that the Tories are out of touch,’ he said.

‘He fails to understand the issues communities across Portsmouth face.

‘It’s time to put people before profit and put passengers first by bringing rail back into public ownership.

‘The Tories can’t admit it, but rail privatisation has been a failure. Every year, millions of pounds which could go on improvements is handed to shareholders. Rigid contracts make it harder to deal with overcrowding.

‘Labour isn’t talking about turning the clocks back, we want a new deal for the railways which delivers a world-class rail service.’