True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

No 38: so you want a new station?
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The Independent Online
A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the

Government's privatisation programme

RAIL privatisation was supposed to encourage a more intensive use of the railways, but Chris Wright of the Oxon and Bucks Rail Action Committee has found precisely the opposite.

The local Oxfordshire County Council has long supported the idea of building a station at Kidlington, on the line between Oxford and Banbury, which it was estimated would attract 350 passengers per day and reduce the number of local car journeys.

The station was originally costed at around pounds 500,000, of which the county would have had to provide half. However, now that Railtrack has taken over from British Rail, the cost of the scheme has escalated to pounds 850,000, because, according to Mr Wright, it needs to make a high rate of return on its investments. "In the new system, everyone wants their cut," he says. "It makes everything more expensive."

Moreover, Thames Trains, the local train operator, had originally promised to pay part of the cost. But now that it is being prepared for privatisation and may not win the franchise to operate trains locally, it says it cannot provide any grant towards the cost of the station, leaving Oxfordshire to apply to the Department of Transport to foot most of the bill.

Mr Wright is not hopeful: "Last year only four stations in the whole country were authorised. What chance is there in the Government's transport lottery?"

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