THE Government has come in for criticism over reasons it originally gave to abandoning electrification of the Lakes Line.

In July 2017, the Secretary of State for Transport announced the cancellation of three electrification projects serving different parts of the UK: the Lakes Line between Oxenholme and Windermere, the Midland Main Line north of Kettering and the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff and Swansea.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has since decided to carry out an investigation to determine why and how the projects were cancelled and the impact on benefits, which has now been published.

The investigation found that the major reason for cancellation was affordability. "The Department decided to cancel projects because Network Rail could no longer deliver its 2014-19 investment programme within the available funding," the NAO found.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said the findings showed the Government had misled the public.

"The revelations completely dispel the Government’s made up excuses that electrification was cancelled to protect the Lake District’s environment or because it wouldn’t deliver any benefits to passengers," he said.

“The simple truth is they decided to pull the plug because they weren’t prepared to cough up the cash for our area and in doing so, misled and betrayed local people.

“Electrification was frankly a no brainer and had the backing of everyone, from commuters to local businesses to the National Park.

“The Government needs to stop taking us for granted and rethink their decision.”

The Campaign for Better Transport also responded to the findings, with member Andrew Allen saying: "The NAO's report shows the Government ditched electrification schemes which would have delivered environmental gains and health benefits, using proven technology, to cities and towns along these rail lines.

"Instead they plumped for polluting diesel and the vague promise that hydrogen power might be viable in the future.

“The urgent need to decarbonise transport and the unprecedented awareness of the health costs of air pollution mean the Government should revisit that decision and redouble its support for alternatives energy sources like hydrogen."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era, spending billions of pounds across the country to deliver faster, more frequent, and more comfortable services with more seats.

“As this report makes clear, we are focused on delivering better trains and services to passengers more quickly, at better value for money for the taxpayer, without the significant disruption to services that electrification can cause.”