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?