Today, when the public enquiry begins into the proposed West Coast Main Line track widening at Armitage, Michael Fabricant has expressed his "grave concerns" that funds will not now be available to divert the route north of the town.
Mr Fabricant has asked Stephen Byers, Transport Secretary, whether sufficient funding will be available for the West Coast Main Line project or whether it will now be done "on the cheap". In particular, the line has been scheduled to be widened by the addition of two more tracks right in the centre of Armitage and Michael Fabricant has argued for a northerly route to be taken by-passing both Armitage and the Ridwares. This route was originally proposed by Railtrack and, while technically feasible, it is more expensive than widening the track in the centre of Armitage.
"Railtrack’s proposals for Armitage will spell misery for my constituents", Michael Fabricant has told Mr Byers, "with trains passing close by peoples’ windows as the line cuts a swathe through the centre of Armitage." Michael Fabricant says: "Stephen Byers has said he will establish ‘special purpose vehicles’ as a means to finance the West Coast Main Line. But there is now considerable doubt that the City will invest adequately – if at all – in these due to his inept handling of Railtrack by the Government over the last few days. My fear is that the public hearing beginning today in Swinfen Hall near Lichfield will be academic. It is now unlikely that sufficient funds will be available to pay for an alternative route for the rail line in Staffordshire".