MP Mary Creagh’s new role as shadow transport minister

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Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has been appointed shadow transport minister.

It means she has immediately faced questions about controversial plans for a high-speed rail network, train fares, managed motorway schemes and crumbling roads.

Ms Creagh has left the environment, food and rural affairs brief which she held since October 2010, following Labour leader Ed Miliband’s reshuffle of his shadow cabinet.

And she told the Express this week that the transport post was a “big new job”.

Ms Creagh said Labour supported HS2 but said there should be “no blank cheque” for the scheme, which is now expected to cost £50bn.

She said: “Under this government we’ve seen the timetable slip the costs inflate. I can understand people’s concerns with the route and roadshows later this year will give people the opportunity to make their objections clear and suggest alternatives.”

Ms Creagh said opening up hard shoulders on motorways was a “cheap way to increase capacity” and raised concerns about air pollution, noise and access for emergency vehicles.

She said: “There are anxieties about this. There are a lot of communities here which are close to the M1 and M62 and there seems to be no budget for sound mitigation.

“We will have to see how the M62 goes and what can be learnt for the M1 scheme.”

Ms Creagh said the government’s handling of road maintenance investment had been “shambolic”, leading to delays to both managed motorway schemes and pothole repairs on local roads.

She said: “The Highways Agency needs a long-term financial settlement so people can plan for the future of our roads. The government cut spending plans for the agency and from local authorities’ road maintenance budget, then pledged to increase investment again. Three years have been wasted because of this stop-start approach.”

Ms Creagh welcomed improvements to Westgate and Kirkgate railway stations.

But she called for more 20mph zones, better bus services to connect rural and urban areas, and said Wakefield was “very poor” for commuter cycling routes.

She said: “There is no space for cyclists on roads, which is disappointing. The council really needs to get a grip on that.”