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West MPs abstain from HS2 vote

There's a campaign for better rail links for the West Country - after a number of the region's MPs didn't back a new high-speed line to the Midlands.

Seven MPs from Devon and Cornwall - including two Conservatives and four Lib Dems abstained in last night's vote on the £50 billion pound HS2 project.

Even supporters of the project argue it must not be at the expense of a faster and more reliable link to the South West, where the main line was cut by storms for eight weeks.

Conservative MP for SE Cornwall Sheryll Murray, and her colleague, Oliver Colville, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport both abstained from voting:-

Train derailed between Cheltenham & Bath

There is disruption on CrossCountry trains between Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway because of a derailed train.

Their services are being diverted via Gloucester station causing longer journey times, and there's no estimate for when the line may reopen.

This will also affect First Great Western services.


Fares could go up more than 4% - Passenger Focus

Passenger groups and unions have reacted angrily to news that rail fares are to rise by more than inflation from January.

The RMT and Action for Rail organised demonstrations at Bristol's Temple Meads station on Tuesday morning over the 4% increase.

Opponents claim fares have risen three times faster than wages in the last six years.

The Government says it's investing heavily in the railways.

Mike Hewitson from Passenger Focus spoke to ITV News West Country:

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Train fares 'rising nearly twice as fast as incomes'

Rail fares are increasing nearly twice as fast as incomes, outstripping wages by almost 14 percent since 2007, according to the Campaign for Better Transport.

This graph shows how rail fares and incomes became decoupled in 2007, with rail fares soaring far above increases in earnings.

Rail fare increases (blue) compared with income rise (red) Credit: Campaign for Better Transport

The group also says that next year will be the eleventh successive year in which rail fares have risen above the level of inflation.


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Transport Secretary: Railways need 'huge investment'

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has defended the expected rise in rail fares next year saying that the rail network is in need of "huge investment". He told the BBC:

Nobody likes to see rail fares go up. I don't like to see it and passengers don't like to see it. We are massively investing in the railways, with £130 million being spent here at Nottingham, £800 million at Reading and £600 million at Birmingham.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

Pressed to say when the government plans to end above-inflation fare rises, he said that the Office for Budget Responsibility has a target to do so in 2015.

He said that just over £8 billion was raised by ticket sales and just under £4 billion by taxpayers for the UK's rail services.

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Rail fare rises aimed at lowering burden on taxpayer

Asked why rail fares continue to rise, the chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies said it was in part to fund better services and in part to lower the contribution from the taxpayer.

Michael Roberts told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the government is trying to reduce the proportion of the cost of rail transport paid by the taxpayer to around 20 percent.

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