Record high for passenger satisfaction as Tory rail policy hits the buffers

Theresa Villiers and George Osborne sent out mixed messages over the Conservative party's transport policies this week, over Crossrail and high speed rail.

Theresa Villiers and George Osborne sent out mixed messages over the Conservative party’s transport policies this week, Ms Villiers warning she could offer “no guarantees” over major rail projects the day after the Shadow Chancellor committed the Tories to both Crossrail and High Speed 2.

In an interview with Rail News, Ms Villiers, the Shadow Transport Secretary, refused to guarantee electrification of the Great Western Main Line and the rolling out of new Thameslink stock and the Intercity Express programme – in spite of saying she supports electrification “in principle” and “understood” the benefits new trains would bring.

Her remarks were in sharp contrast to those of Mr Osborne 24 hours previously when unveiling the Tories’ “New Economic Model”, in which he pledged funding for Crossrail and the new north-south high speed line to Scotland. The Association for Consultancy and Engineering, however, asked for “further details about how this ambitious programme would be financed”.

Ms Villiers’s comments also appear to contradict the Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke, who this week said that the Tories “will seek to ensure we don’t jeopardise key infrastructure projects”, telling the South Devon Herald Express:

“Historically, the easiest thing to cut has always been capital programmes. People get less annoyed if you cancel the future than if you cancel the past.

“But we are all too well aware it is dangerous to cancel real investment, including investment in infrastructure, at times like this.

“Having the proper infrastructure is going be essential to the South West taking part in the recovery.”

The latest passenger satisfaction figures, meanwhile, have revealed a record 83 per cent are satisfied with the overall service they receive, with the proportion satisfied with punctuality and reliability up two points to 83 per cent.

Less than half of those surveyed, however, believed they received value for money – only 45 per cent.

The operators with the highest satisfaction ratings were Wrexham & Shropshire (98%), Grand Central (95%) and Heathrow Express (93%); those with the lowest ratings were First Capital Connect (75%), National Express East Anglia (79%) and Southeastern (80%).

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