BY ANTONY HOPKER
rail bottleneck near Coventry and signals in Nuneaton could be
improved as part of a £7 billion package in the Midlands.
Rail watchdogs in the area
have backed the plans by Railtrack to invest £52 billion nationally
over the next 12 years.
But they have called for
guarantees that the cost of the changes will not be passed on to the
Some money announced yesterday
by Railtrack is committed for particular projects.
Others, including track
widening between Birmingham and Coventry and improving the signals
between Nuneaton and Peterborough, could get the go-ahead if more
funding can be found from other sources.
Railtrack already hope to
spend £7 million on closing the level crossings at Canley and Tile
Hill railway stations as part of a scheme to improve the line and
allow more trains to run.
But the scheme has run into
fierce opposition from residents and Coventry City Council over the
impact on roads in the area.
Railtrack Chief Executive
Gerald Corbett said:
“In total the £52 billion
forms the menu that we choose from and it includes maintenance and
renewal. We would like to focus, though, on the next five years and
what we could and should deliver.”
Philip Davis, chairman of the Midlands Rail Users'
Consultative Committee, said:
“I am pleased that Railtrack has recognised that the
continued increase in passenger demand requires investment to combat
current and future bottlenecks in the region.
“The fact that there will be more money spent must be good
news, but it must continue, year on year”.
However he noted that Railtrack’s plans called for a rise
in access charges of up to £1 billion, some of which will come from
income from fares.
“Passengers will need to
be convinced that any increase in fares is justified by an increase
in performance and an enhancement to services. We will be watching
the investment position closely on their behalf”.