08:00 Tuesday 22 January 2013

Clash over rail spending

Written byBY ADRIAN JENKINS

UNION-backed campaigners and Burton’s Conservative MP have renewed their hostilities over rail investment.

Pressure group Action for Rail said it was concerned about ‘proposed cuts to track maintenance staff’ and the coalition’s alleged emphasis on cost-effective approach to safety to avoid expensive solutions.

“In the context of greater control of infrastructure management by private train operators, this presents real fears that we will return to the days of Hatfield (the October 2000 rail crash) where profit-driven cost cutting led to the neglect of track maintenance and renewal with ultimately tragic consequences,” it said.

The group, which commented in an open letter to Burton MP, Andrew Griffiths, said there was ‘no political motive’ behind its campaign, which was aimed at ensuring safety and preserving rail workers’ jobs.

But Mr Griffiths has hit back, accusing Action for Rail of mounting a political campaign founded on scare tactics.

He said: “They are claiming train crashes like Hatfield are on the verge of happening even though the Government has just announced the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian times.

“This is nothing more than a politically motivated campaign on behalf of the unions aimed at scaring people and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

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