Government stalls on railway bid

July 12, 2007 9:47 AM

Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, David Howarth, has condemned the Government's failure to prepare plans for the Felixstowe to Nuneaton railway line.

Mr Howarth had asked the Department of Transport to support the bid for rail improvements on this East to West rail link for European funding. However the Government has decided to support the bids for two road widening schemes but not the rail improvement plan which would persuade lorries off the A14 and on to the railways.

Transport Minister Tom Harris has admitted that the Department has not sufficiently prepared the railway bid for submission to the EU. Mr Howarth commented:

"The Government has been dragging their feet on the East-West rail link for years. We are now approaching a crucial deadline for millions of pounds of European funding but the Government will not be putting this important project forward because it has failed to prepare the proposals sufficiently. This is just not good enough.

"Providing a proper rail route to Felixstowe would persuade many lorries off the congested A14. The Government is failing to realise the importance of this project."

The Department for Transport's answers also relied on suggestions that Hutchinson Ports would fund part of the route, as far as Peterborough. Mr Howarth added:

"There is a public and not just a private interest in reducing the number of cars and lorries on roads like the A14. The Government should not be waiting around for private companies to pay for all this work. There is an opportunity to bid for European funding here and the Government are letting it pass by."

David Howarth MP in the House of Commons

David Howarth MP

The news comes on the day that The Times reports that the Department for Transport has insisted that rail firms increase their ticket prices in order to win Government franchises.

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