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Lib Dem plan to stop Northampton rail price hikes

August 6, 2007 8:48 PM

Silverlink Train at Northampton StationPlans unveiled by the Lib Dems to increase rail investment would help stop the inflation busting fare increases planned for the Northampton to London route when the new franchise starts in November.

Northampton North Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Andrew Simpson said:

"It is a disgrace that rail fares keep increasing above inflation and that Go-Ahead, the Government's new franchise operator for the London to Birmingham service, has been allowed to increased fares between Northampton and London by 3% above inflation. Lib Dem plans would hold fares down to encourage more rail travellers."

Reducing the cost of fares and keeping them below inflation are among the initiatives to be funded from a new 'Future Transport Fund' which could deliver an extra £12 billion of investment in the rail network over the next five years. The Fund is part of radical Liberal Democrat proposals to move towards a 'carbon free' transport system.

"Across Britain, more people are travelling on the railways than at any time since the 1940s - and the network was much larger in those days. Overcrowding is a big problem in many areas at peak times. This is despite rail fares continuing to rise in real terms, while the cost of motoring continues to fall.

"The government's rail white paper last month was vague and unambitious. The Conservatives have nothing to offer our rail services - it was their botched privatisation that is largely responsible for the current combination of high fares and underinvestment.

"By contrast the Liberal Democrat plan would double rail investment across Britain, not just improving existing services, but providing new ones, including potential new north-south and east-west lines to the high-speed standard enjoyed on the continent. We would look to reduce the cost of fares to passengers, getting even more people onto rail and off the roads, reducing carbon emissions produced from transport dramatically.

"The Future Transport Fund we propose will provide ring-fenced funding for the improvements that future generations need if we are to cut our carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

"We would fund it by introducing a toll on road freight - charged to foreign and UK hauliers alike - and a charge on internal air flights. Road and air transport is much more damaging to the environment than trains, and the Liberal Democrats believe this should be reflected in their relative costs."

'Towards Carbon Free Transport' is a Liberal Democrat spokespersons' paper which forms part of wider climate change proposals which will be debated at the party's conference in Brighton in September.