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Railway Overcrowding

Volume 468: debated on Tuesday 4 December 2007

Existing and future demand for rail travel was assessed in preparing the rail White Paper that was published in July. It was that assessment, and the associated need to tackle existing and potential overcrowding, that led to the capacity enhancements specified in the White Paper.

Several times in recent weeks, I have been delayed, squashed, boiled or left standing on the train between Cheltenham and London—an experience that is both common and expensive for many of our rail users. Will the Minister report progress on practical steps, such as the redoubling of the line between Swindon and Kemble, that might improve the situation?

Of course I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman’s experience, which is shared by many people commuting into London and the larger conurbations around the country, but the Government have committed to invest £15 billion in our railways in the five years between 2009 and 2014. If he wants to hear about practical measures, I can tell him that a rolling stock plan will be published early next year, and that 1,300 new carriages will be rolled out over that five-year period. Depending on the industry’s response, I hope that his constituents and the line to which he referred will benefit from that investment.