A CONSERVATIVE candidate has welcomed plans to increase capacity on one of the busiest commuter lines.
Craig Morley, who is standing for the party in Reading East, said that the plans would transform rail services in the region.
Last week, Grant Shapps, the secretary of state for transport, gave his backing to plans for a new Thames Valley Corridor Capacity Programme.
This, he hopes, will deliver capacity improvements to alleviate passenger overcrowding on high peak hour services on Main Line services into Paddington.
He made the commitment while giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee in Parliament on Wednesday, October 16.
Grant Shapps also confirmed a commitment to the Western Rail Access to Heathrow, which will see a new 6.5km rail link between the Great Western Main Line and the airport further increasing Reading’s connectivity and benefiting the town’s economy.
Mr Morley said: “I am delighted that the Conservatives are prioritising the Thames Valley Corridor Capacity Programme and Western Rail Access to Heathrow as part of our plans to upgrade the nations’ railways – this will transform rail services for local people and make a real difference to the community here in Reading East.
“Fast, reliable trains are vital, not just for boosting local growth, but to making areas like ours attractive places to live and start a business. Support for this project will be welcomed around the constituency.
“Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are ensuring no part of this country is left behind, and no business is held back, because of poor infrastructure. We will level up opportunities and renew the ties that bind our communities together.”
Imogen Shepherd DuBey, who is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Reading East, said: “I would be willing to accept any improvements and investments to rail services through our area, but does it really fully meet the needs of people who live here? The Paddington route from London is fast, but most people don’t live near Reading station and have to travel on from there.
“Many of the sub-urban rail routes that feed out of Reading Station are slow and irregular. Having spent many years commuting to Paddington myself, the twice a day journey was certainly not my favourite part of the day. At the times when I needed to use the service for work, it was very expensive, crowded and often standing room only. I am hoping Crossrail will help and a link to Heathrow would be great.
“We do need more bus services, taking people to the places that we need to get to and into the neighbourhoods where people actually live. It needs to run on Sundays, throughout the night, further out into the suburbs and be there for us when we need it.
“The idea of a regular tram service following the A329M and maybe linking Park and Ride services would be fantastic, especially if could also cross the river to the north.
“A dream, perhaps, but if we want to tackle climate change, we need to encourage people to use public transport more, rather than their own vehicles. Therefore, public transport needs to be cheaper, more regular and easy to use. It also needs to be committed to using renewable energy sources, a reality which we cannot guarantee at the moment.”