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Lancashire faster trains project ‘facing years of delay’

More to come?: Rail union the RMT say scenes like this scene, from summer 2008, on Lancashire trains will continue

More to come?: Rail union the RMT say scenes like this scene, from summer 2008, on Lancashire trains will continue

Lancashire rail passengers will be crammed into commuter trains for years to come thanks to problems with plans to bring new electric-powered carriages to the county, union chiefs have claimed.

Rail union RMT says the county’s passengers face fare increases combined with overcrowding because of problems with the Thameslink scheme in London.

Network Rail has begun a project to electrify the train line between Manchester and Preston to Blackpool – which was finally given the green light after decades of campiagning – and is due to complete it by 2016.

But the project was due to use “second hand” rolling stock from London’s Thameslink line, which will get new carriages following its upgrade.

Now the RMT says there has been a three year delay in the replacement for the Thameslink fleet after the award in principle to Siemens ran into financial and technical problems.

It means while the electrification project will be completed in 2016, passengers could be stuck with deisel-powered trains for longer.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “We now know the real cost of the Government’s Thameslink fiasco...hold ups to key electrification projects and the release and cascading of desperately needed rolling stock throughout the network.

“Those delays will leave passengers paying through the nose for years to come to travel on shabby, overcrowded trains.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Throughout the electrification programme, Network Rail will continue to work closely with the Department for Transport to facilitate the introduction of electrified rolling stock to service these routes.”

A DfT spokesman added: “The Department remains fully committed to the electrification programme, which is why we recently announced a deal for Southern Railway to order an extra 40 train carriages.”

 

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