EFFICIENCY in the rail network is pivotal to saving the planet, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport has said.

Andy McDonald, who is MP for Middlesbrough, delivered an optimistic assessment of an industry in transition during a recent visit to Newcastle College’s Rail and Civil Engineering Academy.

Mr McDonald ushered in Rail Industry Week 2019 by assuring staff and students that Labour remains committed to delivering sustained investment in transport.

He said: “Investment in our transport infrastructure is critically important and the issue of climate change is directly linked to our transport infrastructure.

“It’s going to come into even sharper focus when Labour is in power.

“We have to encourage a shift from cars to mass public transport. It’s the biggest challenge facing all of us right now.”

Mr McDonald said transport is the greatest source of emissions in the North-East.

He said: “Changing that here and everywhere is critical to saving the planet.

“The UK rail industry hasn’t been efficient for many years now and it gets worse the further north you travel.

“Jeremy Corbyn, who is a rail fanatic, often talks about the UK’s transport network representing a journey in time.

“But as a party we’re absolutely committed to sustained investment in the rail industry.

“There’s a real determination to get this right.

“The positive thing is that the next generation is looking forward to long and full careers in the rail industry.”