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Railways: We've heard it all before

A Government announcement of plans to spend billions of pounds on new railway carriages and infrastructure has been dismissed by the Conservatives as a rehash.

After new Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly unveiled a White Paper promising long term investment in longer trains, more station platforms, and other measures to tackle overcrowding on passenger services, Theresa Villers told MPs: "We've heard it all before."

The Shadow Transport Secretary declared: "This announcement is just a series of rehashed projects we were promised years ago. Upgrades for Birmingham New Street, Reading and Thameslink 2000 are welcome, but I'll believe it when I see it."

She added: "With Thameslink 2000, the clue is in the name - the Government promised this project 7 years ago. At this rate, it'll be more like Thameslink 3000 than Thameslink 2000."

And warning that passengers can expect to pay more to travel by rail, Ms Villiers stated: "One thing we can be sure about with this Government is that we'll see more above-inflation fare hikes for grossly overcrowded trains. This announcement is an admission that the Government has wholly failed to tackle chronic over-crowding on our railways.

"Commuters are sick of paying high fares for substandard services, the responsibility for which lies fairly and squarely with the Government, which now has more power over our railways than in the days of British Rail."

Ms Villiers also raised the issue of Crossrail - the west to east London rail project which is still sitting in the sidings without Government go ahead. "We've had announcement after announcement on Crossrail from this Government without a budget being agreed or a track being laid. Mrs Kelly was supposed to be setting out a 30 year programme for our rail system, but seemingly that doesn't include Crossrail. This will be a slap in the face for Londoners and for the City of London who look like they'll have to wait forever for the Government to fulfill its promises on Crossrail," she said.

Villiers, Theresa

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