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COURT DECISION DEALS BLOW TO RAIL SELL-OFF PLANS

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The government's rail privatisation plans were thrown into disarray when the high court granted leave for a judicia...
The government's rail privatisation plans were thrown into disarray when the high court granted leave for a judicial review of the levels of service demanded by the franchising director, Roger Salmon.

The Financial Times (Nov 25, p1) reported that the decision could delay the sale of passenger train franchises. The government hopes to privatise a large part of the railway network before the general election, due by May 1997.

The legislation privatising the railway required train frequencies to be 'based on' the existing timetable. But railway campaigners, 19 local authorities and the transport unions argued that Mr Salmon's decision to set minimum service requirements, in some cases well below, the current rail timetable, was unlawful.

A full hearing of the arguments about timetable levels will take place in the High Court on December 7.

And the Daily Mail [Nov 25,p2] said Mark Dowd, of the Labour-dominated Association of Metropolitan Authorities, denied political motives for the councils' participation in the case.

'We know what passengers want. We are there to look after their interests and I believe today that is exactly what we have done', he said.

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