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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 March 2007

Rail investment

Passenger protests force some improvements

THE GOVERNMENT ann-ouncement that 1,000 new rail carriages are to be provided to ease overcrowding is welcome news for rail travellers and rail workers who are frustrated that the service we provide fails our customers. Even so, the earliest date some of the carriages will see service is 2009, and they will not all be available until 2014.

By an Aslef member

There are other concerns. 1,000 new carriages represents about 10% of the existing rolling stock. These will be used to lengthen trains on some of the most overcrowded routes.

Passengers have protested and refused to pay fares on the route between Bath and Bristol operated by First Great Western because many people have to stand for the whole journey. Services into Leeds are carrying 63% more passengers than 10 years ago and forecasts are for rail travel to continue to boom.

Some of the worst overcrowding occurs at Birmingham New Street where platforms have to be closed to ensure safety. You have to hope that the Department for Transport remember that New Street is due to be refurbished, although the timetable is unclear.

As any train-spotter will tell you, trains don't just move along all day and night, they need somewhere to go at night. Sheds and depots are already bursting at the seams.

It will be interesting to see if the government is making arrangements for more depot capacity and for the additional cleaners, fitters, fuellers and (whisper it) drivers who will be needed.

The issue of lengthening platforms will also need to be addressed urgently. It's no good having a long train if it won't fit on the platform. The government announcement is a hasty response to the travelling public's anger about the cattle truck conditions in which many have to travel.

Passenger groups should link up with rail unions to ensure New Labour's pledge is not forgotten when the spotlight moves on.

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In The Socialist 22 March 2007:

Labour's NHS plans: not what the doctors ordered!

Divisive forgery shocks health campaign


War and terrorism

End Iraq hell

Blair (and Tories) get their Trident vote

Will Bush bomb Iran?


Socialist Party campaigns

Public anger sees off BNP

May Day greetings - support the socialist

Keep the market out of education!


International Socialist Resistance

Young people get organised


Socialist Party news and analysis

Passenger protests force some improvements

Budget: Who are the real scroungers?

Water charges to be delayed?

Socialist Party women's day school a success


What we think

Private equity deals - fight free-market vultures


Marxist analysis: history

How was the slave trade abolished?


International socialist news and analysis

Rifondazione Comunista - its future?

A tale of two tours

"Bush out of Iraq and Lula out of Haiti"

Greece: The struggle to defend free education


Workplace news and analysis

Burslem postal workers continue the fight

Defend UNISON health activist

Greenwich single status scandal

TUC try to cut conference childcare provision

Amicus and TGWU to merge

Fight university job cuts

Lobby for migrant workers' rights


 

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