BR bids for 150m pounds to lease new trains

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RAIL services to Manchester, Birmingham and Wolverhampton could improve dramatically if InterCity wins its bid to obtain new rolling stock under a leasing system, writes Christian Wolmar.

Yesterday, Chris Green, the director of InterCity, said he was confident of getting pounds 150m from the Government to replace ageing rolling stock on the London to Manchester line with new InterCity high speed 225s. 'We have put forward a good commercial case and we would make a 15 per cent return on the investment,' he said.

The existing rolling stock would be used for Birmingham and Wolverhampton services, and all three lines would have reduced journey times.

Last year British Rail had to cancel a pounds 400m plan to buy new stock because of a shortage of cash, and a scheme to improve the infrastructure has also been shelved. Currently, the line is the worst performing of the major long-distance InterCity routes. Mr Green said InterCity could make a profit this year by cutting pounds 20m on investment, but it was 'storing trouble up for the future.' However, the number of passengers was beginning to rise suggesting, he said, the first signs of an economic recovery.

In a tie-up between road and rail, Shell and InterCity have set up a joint promotional offer. Motorists who collect 15 vouchers from a Shell petrol station will be able to get a free second InterCity saver or SuperSaver ticket, when they purchase one.

The final details of how 315 miles of road in London are to be turned into Red Routes - urban clearways - over the next four years were revealed yesterday by London's traffic director, Derek Turner. He said a new computer system would ensure that all road users - bus passengers, pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists - benefit.