Sunday 23rd October 2016                 Change text size:

‘State-of-the-art’ trains a ‘boost’ for passengers, says transport secretary


Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has welcomed an order that will introduce over 100 state-of-the-art train carriages to London’s rail network.

Operating firm Southern confirmed a new £180m deal with train builders Bombardier while McLoughlin was visiting the Stewarts Lane Depot in Battersea on Tuesday, where he saw the first of a British-built fleet being prepared for use.

Southern is planning to roll out a fleet of 130 carriages, also produced by Bombardier, for use in December. A further 40 vehicles are planned for use on its services early next year.

The additional 116 carriages are intended for some of London’s busiest commuter routes.

McLoughlin said, “London’s commuters deserve a first class rail network and comfortable modern trains, Southern is delivering that. This second order will also provide a further boost to the thousands of passengers who travel into London every day.

“A successful rail network is vital for the economic prosperity of the country and its standing in the global race. The fact that these trains are made in Britain also protects jobs outside of the capital.”

Last Wednesday, the Court of Appeal dismissed seven grounds of appeal against the controversial £32 billion HS2 rail network, with construction still planned to begin in 2017.

HS2 will connect London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and the East Midlands. The chancellor George Osborne said the network would be “the engine for growth in the north and the Midlands of this country.

However, HS2 has attracted plenty of controversy. In January, Penny Gaines, chair of the campaign Stop HS2, called it “a fast train for fat cats.”

Many argue that investment in rail is essential to the development of sustainable travel networks. Network Rail is set to invest £37.5 billion into Britain’s rail infrastructure between now and 2018,  and has pledged to build a railway that supports a greener environment – a railway “fit for the future”.

Under the plans, carbon emissions will be cut by 37% per passenger – the equivalent, Network Rail says, of taking one million lorries off of Britain’s roads.

However, opponents to the HS2 network argue that the need for sustainable transport systems must not be met at the costs of the natural environment.

The Wildlife Trust claims that the government is significantly underestimating the impact of the new route on the environment.

In June, Tory minister Tim Yeo told the Guardian that the high speed rail project would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the UK stopped using fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Further reading:

Rail investment will speed up journeys and lower emissions

 ‘Still unclear’ if HS2 will be economically beneficial

 Unsustainable rail price fare rises for 10th successive year

HS2: an ‘engine for growth’ or a ‘fast train for fat cats’?

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