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July 18, 2003 3:15 PM
Charles Kennedy MP for Ross, Skye & Inverness West, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP

Speaking on a multi-modal journey between Westminster and Gatwick airport today, Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy will attack the Government's failures on public transport.

Charles Kennedy will say:

"Labour's transport policy is the policy of the madhouse. Their 10 year transport plan is no longer worth the paper it is written on. Any pretence at creating an integrated transport policy has simply been abandoned.

"Just look at our railways. Under Labour delays have doubled and cancellations are up by half. Yet at the same time bureaucracy and costs in industry have been spiralling. The number of staff running Britain's railways has risen by an astonishing 360% since privatisation in 1992 - it's crazy.

"And why does it cost so much to build on our railways? Why does a lift shaft at a train station cost four times as much as one built anywhere else? And why is it more expensive just to upgrade the West Coast Main Line than it was to build a brand new TGV line in France?

"Alistair Darling recently announced to long-suffering rail passengers that train fares - already amongst the highest in the world - are to rise yet again. Yet before we put up rail fares we should make sure that we are actually collecting all the fares that are currently due - 10 to 15 per cent of which simply go unpaid.

"There is no reason on earth why transport solutions in this country should be so driven by a central transport department. We should be looking to devolve such power away from Westminster to regional transport authorities - such as in Germany where their Verbundsystems have been effective in creating a truly integrated transport system."