Rail groups clash over improvements

TWO rail passenger groups have clashed over the most constructive way to improve the state of the region's railways.One group, Essex Rail Users' Federation, has identified the rising cost of station parking as a way of penalising passengers who are travelling to destinations other than London.

TWO rail passenger groups have clashed over the most constructive way to improve the state of the region's railways.

One group, Essex Rail Users' Federation, has identified the rising cost of station parking as a way of penalising passengers who are travelling to destinations other than London.

It is concerned that the added cost of parking is effectively a tax on people driving to stations and will discourage people from using the train system to make regional journeys.

However, the Witham and Braintree Rail Users' Association has issued a statement to distance itself from the federation, saying it is more focussed on increasing the number of services as the region's trains are running at full capacity.


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Derek Monnery, federation chairman, said that while the association's concerns needed to be dealt with, recent improvements to the rail network and services had not gone hand-in-hand with improved parking facilities.

He said: “Trains have improved considerably in the last two-and-a-half years, where the car parks issue has become the number one gripe, and effectively a tax on people who drive to the station.

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“The charges are totally untenable. If you drive into a car park and see the cost of parking, there is a strong incentive to drive away.

“Cheaper parking always been top of our agenda and is something that came up strongly at our recent committee meeting.”

But David Bigg, association chairman, explained that while the association would be happy to join a forum addressing the problems faced by the railways, it wanted to stress the difference between the groups.

He said: “We don't want to be associated with the federation and we see no point in joining a group whose pursuits we do not support.”

The association stresses it is more concerned with tackling congestion on the existing trains and increasing the number of services available.

In a statement released this week, it emphasised the need to work with Essex County Council to help set up a rail forum to bring together all parties to form a policy-making body for the whole of Essex.

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