East misses out on rail cash
COMMUTERS have criticised a Government investment in railways after the region was overlooked for improvements.Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly gave the go-ahead for the £5.5bn Thameslink north-south route through London and a commitment to the east-west Crossrail project linking Essex with central London and Berkshire.
COMMUTERS have criticised a Government investment in railways after the region was overlooked for improvements.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly gave the go-ahead yesterday for the £5.5bn Thameslink north-south route through London and a commitment to the east-west Crossrail project linking Essex with central London and Berkshire.
But there was no guarantee that any of the 1,300 extra carriages to improve capacity on the rail network would be seen on the East Anglia main line from Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford.
Despite missing out, commuters and other passengers will face annual increases in fares to pay for the improvements for the rest of Southern England.
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Planned improvements to the region's stations will also have to take their chances from a £150m fund to cover the whole of England - with train operator One promising strong bids.
Bosses at One welcomed the announcement, saying rail users in Suffolk and Essex could expect to see more carriages, better punctuality and further construction on the lines.
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But commuter groups claim the plan contained no specific, significant investment for the region's main link with the capital and rural branch lines.
David Bigg, chairman of the Witham and Braintree Rail Users' Association, felt East Anglia had been let down once again.
He said: “Our lines between Ipswich, Colchester and London are full and we're disappointed the government has not grasped the nettle again.
“We will pay higher fares for any improvements but we won't pay for it in advance or for someone else's service.
“I am absolutely dumbfounded that we should subsidise another region - it's totally immoral.”
Jonathan Denby , One Railway spokesman, said: “I can say that in general terms people will see some new carriages come into East Anglia and a commitment to improving punctuality.
“We have now had four successive months of over 90per cent punctuality. Performance is going up in the right direction and this trend should continue with the white paper.”
He added One would bid for some of its stations to be included in the £150m refurbishment plans, but could not commit to precise stations.