Monday, August 20, 2007

Tom Harris on Radio 4

You and Yours this lunchtime featured the question: A government White Paper aims to give the UK railway network a clear direction over the next 30 years. Will it?
Listen again here
No specific mention of First Great Western was made, but the Minister for Rail Tom Harris was asked about the budget set out in the White Paper and said the following:
- 1,300 new carriages will be bought to increase capacity across the network
- "Reading was identified by Brunel as a major bottleneck in the mid-1800s... The amount of money we're going to spend there will make a major difference in terms of extra platforms and extra capacity."
- "The government doesn't need any additional increases in fares in order to achieve the revenue streams predicted in the white paper"
This final point only relates to restricted fares like season tickets, but I must admit it's really nice to actually hear a government minister say that there won't be fare increases for commuters as a result of the planned improvements.
Rail groups on the programme all welcomed the White Paper, but say they'll be watching the fares over the next few years, as the bad news is that unrestricted fares could go up sharply - one contributor predicted a rise of 20% in unrestricted tickets like standard return fares.
Have a listen and tell me what you think. Do you believe it?


Simon said...


I have just heard this programme and was shocked to hear Tom Harris saying that the uk has the youngest train fleet in the UK, with most of the fleet less than 15 years of age.

This is not the case with FGW. It has the oldest, most dilapidated, fleet in the country.

Finally, if it has been known for so long that Reading is a major bottleneck why has nothing been done about it?

Anonymous said...

I have seen some plans for sorting out the bottleneck at Reading and they seem very good. The government has released some money for this so hopefully the work will start soon.

The main changes seem to be:

- 1 extra bay platform for the SWT/FGW Gatwick services

- 2 extra platforms for mainline through services

- 2 extra through platforms that could be used for mainline services, the services via westbury or servcies on the SWT route.

- lots of new underpasses so that trains on different routes do not conflict with each other. This will hopefully means that the Virgin trains which are good at picking up delays miles away and transfering them to out region (as well as vice versa) will no longer do this.


Ollie said...

Be interested to know where you saw this