The government has sought to allay commuter anger over cramped travelling conditions on Britain’s railways by announcing plans for more than 2,000 new carriages – but passengers will have to wait until the end of the decade before they get the full benefit. The transport secretary, Philip Hammond, confirmed several projects announced by the previous government, including a revamp of the north-south Thameslink route through central London and electrification of parts of the rail network. However, the announcements made at the tail-end of the Labour administrations have been pared back or delayed as ministers attempt to balance public spending cuts with infrastructure improvements. Thameslink will be completed two years later than expected in 2018 and plans to electrify the London-to-Swansea route are on hold. Routes from London to Oxford and between Manchester, Preston, Blackpool and Liverpool will be electrified by 2016. A high-profile order for 1,400 carriages to replace Britain’s ageing intercity 125 fleet, announced by Labour in 2009, remains mired in wranglings over cost reductions, with the final contract yet to be signed. Hammond said a final decision on the intercity programme, and electrification of the London-to-Swansea route where those trains would be deployed, would be made in January…. Read full this story
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