Rail campaigners have reacted with dismay to news that major electrification schemes are to be scrapped. "It's hugely disappointing news for the railway and it highlights the government's lack of ambition" said Bruce Williamson from the campaign group Railfuture. "It still leaves us with the unanswered question of how we can get the benefits of electrification in the future. We recognise that the costs of the schemes have spiralled, but the way forward is to address the cause of these cost problems rather than simply abandoning electrification schemes. We're keen to see new electric trains deployed to the greatest extent possible. If bi-mode technology allows this earlier than would otherwise be possible, then we welcome it. But politicians need to recognise the electric and diesel trains are not equivalent. Electric trains can deliver huge improvements on cost, reliability and performance, and these lines must be electrified in the longer term. In the meantime, the few lines which will be electrified will need to be chosen with care to make sure that both local and long distance services can make use of the infrastructure to the greatest extent possible. Network Rail must reduce the capital costs of electrification so that the gaps in electrification can be progressively closed. For now, we support the art of the possible."
Notes to editors:
Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.
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media at railfuture.org.uk