Fares hike as £8bn rail package unveiled

Passengers facing huge hikes in train fares were today promised hundreds of new carriages after the Government committed itself to an £8 billion package of new rail schemes.

But there were warnings that overcrowding on trains is still likely to continue because customers will have to wait until 2019 to get all the 2,100 carriages promised.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the Government had to "invest in Britain's future" and the new carriages would "help make our railways fit for the 21st century".

But shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said passengers facing "massive increases in fares" would be disappointed the Government was "delaying new trains".

There were concerns among Welsh politicians that Mr Hammond had deferred a decision on whether electrification of the Great Western line would be extended to Wales.

But in London there was a welcome for Mr Hammond's commitment to funding the £6 billion Bedford-Brighton north-south Thameslink project in its entirety but dismay that the scheme was going to finish two years' late - in 2018.

And there was also concern that Mr Hammond had also deferred a decision on the replacement of ageing Intercity high-speed trains.

Among projects announced were:

* 2,100 new carriages by May 2019 but only 650 of them by 2014 - far fewer than the 1,300 originally promised by 2014 by Labour, a pledge Mr Hammond said was "never deliverable";

* Funding for the Thameslink project in its entirety but the completion put back two years due to reprogramming of work at London Bridge;

* A £600 million electrification, to be completed by 2016, of the Great Western line from London to Didcot, Oxford and Newbury but a decision on electrification of the rest of the line to Wales deferred until the new year;

* A £300 million electrification of lines between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool with work due to be completed by 2016;

* A deferring until the new year of a decision on the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) - the project to replace the Intercity 225 trains, some of which date back to the 1970s.

Mr Hammond's announcement came just days after rail passengers learnt earlier this week that rail fares would rise by an inflation-busting 6.2% in the new year, with some travellers facing rises of nearly 13%.

Jo deBank, of rail passenger watchdog London TravelWatch, said Thameslink passengers would have to "endure severe disruption" for longer.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said the proposal to extend Great Western electrification to Wales was still under "serious consideration".

But Plaid AM Dai Lloyd said: "This once again proves that for the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, Wales is nothing more than an afterthought."

And Wales's First Minister Carwyn Jones said the deferring of the Great Western electrification decision was "very disappointing".

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, said the announcement was "classic political smoke and mirrors" with the new-carriage numbers being "dressed up to look better than they are".

Gerry Doherty, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "Passengers will obviously be pleased that this will ease their cattle truck-style journeys but they still face a giant 30% jump in their fares over the next four years just to pay for the privilege of a seat."

Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "The reality is that, for the immediate future, passengers face huge fare increases along with continued overcrowding and in some cases poor facilities."

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), welcomed the announcement but said it "still leaves several questions unanswered".

He added that the Intercity Express Programme had started five years ago and had already cost more than £20 million in consultancy fees but was "yet to produce a single carriage".

The Intercity Express Programme (IEP) was halted by the Labour government earlier this year and an independent review was set up which reported to the new Government in June.

The Government said it was looking at two options - a revised bid from the original preferred bidder Agility, a consortium led by Japanese company Hitachi; and an alternative for a fleet of all-electric trains.

Should Hitachi be successful, it plans to develop a site at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham in a project that will create hundreds of jobs and be worth an estimated £660 million to the north east England economy over 20 years.

A spokesman for Hitachi said: "We are disappointed that there is yet no decision on our bid for the IEP, and therefore on our plans to bring jobs to the UK. We will be continuing our talks with the Department for Transport and will consider our position in the light of these."

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments