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2000-05-25 DET-001
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

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Investment the key to the rail industry's future Prescott tells summit


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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Investment the key to the rail industry's future Prescott tells summit
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2000-05-25 Rail industry can deliver but more investment needed (ATOC)

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date
25 May 2000
source Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
type Press release



Investment is the key to the safe, modern and efficient rail service people want, Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott said today. Speaking at the National Rail Summit he underlined the Government's commitment to stand up for passengers and work closely with the industry. He said that for its part the Government was now working on delivering its 10 year transport strategy with railways at its heart.

Mr Prescott said:

" The Government's 10 year transport strategy aims to make our railways among the best in the world. It will lead to new and safer stations and a modernised train fleet; renewal of all the main lines; far more freight on the railway; systems that automatically prevent red signals being passed right across the network; and new and faster tilting trains cutting inter-city journey times throughout the country.
" In addition to this, the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link will cut journey times to Europe bringing us into line with our European counterparts."
Referring to commitments made by the industry at the last Rail Summit in February 1999, Mr Prescott said the rail industry had gone a long way to meet these but there was still work to be done. Among developments since the last Summit:

punctuality has improved despite a big increase in passenger growth;
new rolling stock has at last started coming into service; and
there have been many initiatives on safety.
The establishment of the shadow Strategic Rail Authority had also at last provided a sense of direction to an industry previously fragmented by privatisation.

Mr Prescott said:

" Much remains to be done to ensure passengers have the safe, modern and efficient rail service they deserve. There are still too many late trains, too many cancellations and too much overcrowding. Some train operators have improved their performance over the year but not enough. I want to see the worst performing companies reach the standard of the best. Train operators must redouble their efforts if they want to see their franchises replaced.
" Rail demand could go up significantly in the next decade perhaps by as much as 50 per cent. If the industry is to meet the growth there must be more capacity. That will take a long time to put into place so we must prepare for the future today."
Mr Prescott also announced that there will be a separate rail safety meeting later in the year and after Lord Cullen has finished his inquiry.

He said:

" This Summit takes place in the shadow of the Cullen Inquiry into the Paddington rail tragedy. In the last two weeks we have all heard and read the harrowing evidence given by witnesses. This has brought home to us all how important it is that we do everything we can do to ensure that such an awful tragedy does not happen again.
" Safety is too important an issue to be dealt with in detail at today's Summit. That is why I have decided that there should be a separate safety meeting later this year. That meeting will be attended by myself, Sir David Davies, the Health and Safety Commission and officials from my Department.
" I intend this to be a forum for Paddington and Southall survivors and families providing them with a chance to give their views; review the progress made since our safety summit last November; and shape the agenda for the future."
Concluding, Mr Prescott said:

" The railway is busier than at any time since 1946. It now faces an historic opportunity to meet the challenge of a further huge increase in passenger demand. Railways are also at the heart of our integrated transport policy.
" We have put into place the framework for providing strategic direction and proper regulation. It is now up to the industry to prove it can deliver what passengers want."

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Media enquiries 020 7944 3018; Out of hours: 020 7944 5925 or 5945
Public Enquiries Unit 020 7944 3000
E-mail: press@dtlr.gov.uk
Web site http://www.dtlr.gov.uk/


Railhub Archive ::: 2000-05-25 DET-001





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