ONE CHEER FOR MINISTER'S "TICKING OFF" OF FIRST GREAT WESTERN FROM LUFF
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Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff says that today's reprimand for First Great Western (FGW) by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly was only a ticking off and merited just one cheer.

The minister has made a detailed statement to the Commons describing FGW's serious shortcomings and admitting that the company is in breech of its franchise agreement, but her actions are very limited and she stops short of stripping the company of the franchise.

Commenting, Peter said,

"I do realise that many of the problems for commuters from Worcestershire to Oxford and London are caused by Network Rail's failure properly to maintain the track and signals, but FGW's record for running the trains themselves is still appalling.

"The government awarded the franchise to FGW against the advice of many experts and the government told FGW what service and timetable to operate. It's taken the government a long time to wake up and start getting tough, but even now its actions don't amount to much.

"Yes, there is good news in the statement - and I think the government is right to insist on further passenger compensation rather than to fine the company - but our county is paying a heavy price for FGW's failure. I am not convinced that the actions being taken will really improve the service - I hope I'm wrong."

Peter has today also tabled a parliamentary question asking when Network Rail will produce its business case for the redoubling of the three single-line sections of track between Oxford and Worcester. He said,

"However good or bad FGW is, we will never get the rail service we need until the line is again fully doubled. Network Rail were supposed to report in October, but this drifted to February and there's still no sign of their conclusions. The government needs to get tough with Network Rail too."


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