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RAIL GROUPS' CONCERN OVER LAND SALES

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Rail passenger and freight groups are claiming that the shadow Strategic Rail Authority and Railtrack are selling l...
Rail passenger and freight groups are claiming that the shadow Strategic Rail Authority and Railtrack are selling land that they say is needed to improve the network, reports The Financial Times (p4).

Stephen Joseph, director of Transport 2000, the campaign group, said: 'This asset stripping of the railway's future runs directly counter to the government and the shadow SRA's stated intention to increase the capacity of the network.'

Local authorities have appealed against 40 sales, while the Rail Freight Group opposes up to 160. Train operators are also opposing sales.

Lord Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group, says 90% of shawdow SRA land is not important but the rest could be vital to accommodate forecast growth of up to 30% in passengers and freight.

He said: 'We are concerned about the 10% of land which could be used for station car parks, branch line re-opening, and freight terminals. The land should be looked at 20 years ahead.'

But the shadow SRA and Railtrack denied selling important land. They say objectors overstate future needs.

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