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'Ministry men should ride on crowded trains'


'Ministry men should ride on crowded trains'


Whitehall officials should be forced to travel on "late" inter-city Westcountry trains to witness the hardship felt by passengers, the House of Lords has heard as peers attacked First Great Western services.

Members of the upper house criticised regular over-crowding and delays on First Great Western routes ahead of the Government putting the contract out to tender later this year.

Peers repeatedly pressed the Government to ensure passenger frustrations were tackled under the new franchise, which starts next year.

Conservative Baroness O'Cathain said: "In view of the disconnect that seems to exist between the passenger experience and the views of the Department for Transport, would it not be a good idea if the 50 most senior members of the Department for Transport had it within their remit that they have to travel on the 'Late Western' line at least once a month?"

Speaking for the Government, Earl Attlee responded: "I do not think that would be a practical requirement."

Labour's Lord Touhig questioned whether the successful bidder for the franchise should provide new carriages. He said: "As a regular user of the service, I can testify to delayed and cancelled trains because of mechanical failure, sweltering or freezing carriages because air conditioning does not work, lavatories blocked or flooded, and on one train that I travelled on recently the brakes seized and part of the train had to be evacuated because of appalling fumes that filled the carriages. The one redeeming feature of the present operator is that it has excellent on-train staff."

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