Crossrail reveals the depth of Britain’s north-south divide | Simon Jenkins

Crossrail reveals the depth of Britain’s north-south divide | Simon Jenkins

Billions more have just been announced for the delayed London rail line – yet northern infrastructure projects are killed off

It’s been a great week to bury bad government. Two of the greatest infrastructure projects in the land hit financial grief. Normally it would have been headline news. Instead no one shows the slightest interest. The Department for Transport has long had a simple agenda. A cynic might sum it up as: give London anything it wants, but starve the north of investment until it gets the point and moves south. It is called regional policy, applied ruthlessly since 2010.

A rail tunnel has been built under London, at nearly twice the diameter of any other line and for no other reason than to spend splendidly. Crossrail this year has demanded an extra £2.3bn on a price tag of some £15bn, with no known completion date. Worse is happening at its sister project HS2, whose £56bn budget – up from an original £34bn – has gripped its backers in mendacity for five years or more. Leaks from all over are now predicting it will cost from £80bn (the Treasury) to more than £100bn, with no realistic completion date.

Related: Delays and departures as yet another infrastructure project goes off the rails

Related: Northern MPs tell Labour: change your mind on HS2

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Grief and pride of the Stansted 15’s parents | Letters

Grief and pride of the Stansted 15’s parents | Letters
Parents of the protesters convicted this week say that the group has upheld the values of social justice and human rights on behalf of us all

As parents of the defendants, we are heartbroken at the guilty verdict on Monday at Chelmsford crown court for the Stansted 15 (Editorial: The Stansted 15 case is not just about deportation, but about our right to protest, 12 December). The grief we feel is a measure of the depth of our love for them and the pride in what they have achieved.

At risk to their own safety and wellbeing, and now their freedom, they have tried to save the lives of vulnerable people facing deportation. Their peaceful direct action stopped the plane taking off on 28 March 2017, with about 60 people on board destined to fly to Nigeria and Ghana. Eleven people from that flight now remain in the UK. Four were victims of trafficking, and at least one has been granted leave to remain here.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Uber pushed for UK congestion charges that would hit poor hardest

Uber pushed for UK congestion charges that would hit poor hardest

Guardian freedom of information request reveals details of talks between Uber chief and Chris Grayling

Uber used a private meeting with the transport secretary to push for congestion charges that a senior civil servant warned would hit poorer drivers hardest, records have revealed.

Chris Grayling was also lobbied by the Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, about opening up opportunities in Britain’s public transport network, according to the minutes of a meeting in October, revealed after a freedom of Information request by the Guardian.

Related: Uber losses top $1bn in run-up to IPO

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Source: Guardian Transport

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The Guardian view on the Stansted 15: a sledgehammer prosecution | Editorial

The Guardian view on the Stansted 15: a sledgehammer prosecution | Editorial
The activists who blocked a deportation flight from departing were charged under legislation introduced to counter terrorist threats. Their case sets a chilling precedent

The case of the 15 activists convicted on Monday over a non-violent protest which stopped a deportation flight from leaving Stansted airport should not only worry all those who care about the rights of those threatened with removal. It should alarm anyone who cares about the right to protest. The disproportionate charge will have a chilling effect. Amnesty has called this “a crushing blow for human rights in the UK”; Liberty said it was a “malicious attack” on the right to protest.

There is no dispute that the members of the End Deportation group cut through a fence and secured themselves around a plane chartered to remove undocumented immigrants to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. The question was whether their reasons for doing so constituted a defence (the judge said not), and whether the charge was appropriate. The first issue is a matter of law. The second is also one of common sense. They were initially accused of aggravated trespass, the offence used in previous airport protest cases. The Crown Prosecution Service then upgraded this to “intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome” by means of “a device, substance or weapon”.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Major tube upgrades shelved as TfL struggles to balance books

Major tube upgrades shelved as TfL struggles to balance books

Capital’s transport authority faces shortfall due to Crossrail delays and government cuts

Plans to upgrade major parts of the London Underground will be put on hold after a decline in passenger numbers, government cuts and delays to the opening of Crossrail have left the capital’s transport authorities struggling to balance the books.

Related: Delayed Crossrail could cost almost £3bn more than planned

Related: TfL facing near £1bn deficit next year after journey numbers fall

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Source: Guardian Transport

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The need to speed up rail electrification | Letters

The need to speed up rail electrification | Letters
Letters from David Clarke, technical director of the Railway Industry Association, and Professor Richard Morris

Your report on the scope of the TransPennine route upgrade draws attention to the wider context of rail electrification schemes in the UK (Transport secretary considering ‘seriously flawed’ rail upgrade, 8 December).

In the past, rail electrification has not always been delivered as cost-effectively as it can be, notably on flagship schemes like the Great Western electrification programme. Therefore, the Railway Industry Association (RIA), which represents more than 240 rail suppliers throughout the UK, is leading an Electrification Cost Challenge, to show how electrification costs can be reduced. The evidence gathered so far already suggests electrification schemes can be consistently delivered at 2009 levels.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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An anti-capitalist hack for TV ads | Brief letters

An anti-capitalist hack for TV ads | Brief letters
Hope | Anti-capitalist tips | Richard Cooke | Seat offering | Meat allergy

In a desert of lunacy and lies, Monday’s Guardian was an oasis of honesty, humour and hope. Thank you.
Laurence Arnold
Stevenage, Hertfordshire

• Re “Use your TV remote” (How to be an everyday anti-capitalist, G2, 10 December), I record the TV programmes I want to watch and then fast-forward the adverts. This way, you do not have to hear or see them, apart from observing them whizzing past, and also gain about 12 minutes in every hour or so of screen time.
Susan Harvey
Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey

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Source: Guardian Transport

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The Stansted 15 activists should be supported, not punished | Letters

The Stansted 15 activists should be supported, not punished | Letters
Supporters including Diane Abbott, Phillip Pullman, Emma Thompson and Caroline Lucas write in defence of the 15 human rights activists who acted to stop a ‘brutal, secretive and barely legal deportation flight’ last year

We the undersigned express our deep concern and disagreement with the recent prosecutions at Chelmsford crown court against the 15 human rights activists who acted to stop a brutal, secretive and barely legal deportation flight last year (Report, 11 December). The “Stansted 15” have been convicted of “endangering an aerodrome” under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 – a terrorism-related law. The use of this draconian legislation is grossly disproportionate and a clear abuse of power.

Helen, Joe, Lyndsay, Ben, Mel, Nathan, Laura, Jo, Nick, Ali, Eddie, Emma, May, Ruth and Melanie chained themselves around a deportation charter flight bound for Nigeria and Ghana in March 2017 with the sincere belief that they were preventing the 60 people on board from coming to harm. As a result of their 10-hour blockade, 11 people – including victims of trafficking recognised under the Modern Slavery Act – are still here in the UK with their loved ones.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Shire railways are losing out to London | Letters

Shire railways are losing out to London | Letters
Les Bright points to deprived areas of the south, while Peter Fellows crunches numbers

It is no surprise that, with all eyes turned towards Brexit, politics has reverted to type with the “north-south divide” reasserting itself (North of England continues to see cuts in public spending, report finds, 5 December). But this formulation is inaccurate and divisive, suggesting that all of the south is prosperous and favoured by those who allocate government resources. Tell that to the people of the southern shires where per pupil spending is significantly below that of London; rail travellers whose trips are cancelled or made by bus when moderate storms coincide with high tides; and communities where bus services have been reduced or removed. Crossrail will do little or nothing to improve rail services outside of the corridor of privilege that it will create, and HS2 has no relevance for most of us. London’s dominance over the rest of the UK, as measured by power, influence and funding, may well have contributed as much to the outcome of the referendum as migration-related fears and must be addressed if further fractures are to be avoided.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

• Transpennine rail upgrade linking Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford Hull and York: £2.9bn. Crossrail 2 vanity project: £30bn. Says everything you need to know about the government’s political priorities (Transport secretary considering ‘seriously flawed’ rail upgrade, 8 December). Roll on a general election.
Peter Fellows
Bradford

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Crossrail now delayed to 2020 and to cost another £2bn

Crossrail now delayed to 2020 and to cost another £2bn

Final bill of London’s new rail line could hit £17bn as the mayor demands release of board minutes

The final bill for Crossrail could reach almost £17bn, with London picking up the likely £2bn shortfall for the new rail line that will now be delayed until at least 2020.

Related: Crossrail boss steps down after project delays

Related: Sir Terry Morgan resigns as chairman of Crossrail and HS2

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Source: Guardian Transport

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