Railways to get £8bn investment

indian_railwaysPlans for £8bn of investment in Britain’s railways have been announced by the government.

The government is buying about 2,000 new carriages to tackle overcrowding, electrifying some lines, and pressing ahead with the Thameslink programme.

Yet only 650 of the new carriages will be available by 2014 – less than the 1,300 announced by the last government, while Thameslink is delayed two years.

Labour has called the plans “nothing more than one long series of delays”.

Meanwhile, proposals to modernise the London-Swansea line are still on hold and it will be the end of the decade before the investment is complete.

Passengers also face above-inflation rises in ticket prices to help pay for the investments.

“Commuters will see their fares rise by 3% above inflation next year and they now face waits of up to a decade for the new trains that will ease overgrowding and speed up journeys,” said the shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle.

She also accused the government of delaying Crossrail and the Thameslink upgrade, as well as the replacement of the old Intercity 125 long distance trains.

Her comments came in response to the official announcement of the plans in the House of Commons by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

Defending the plans, Mr Hammond said the last government’s promise of new rolling stock amounted to “not so much a plan as a press release”.

The minister acknowledged that the decision to raise the regulatory cap on fare increases was bad news for commuters.

“But this is one of the tough decisions that we have had to make in order to protect the investment programme in our railways,” he said.

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