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Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 05:32 GMT

UK Politics

Four out of five rail carriages missing

Rolling stock replacement has been delayed

The rail industry has failed to deliver a key promise on upgrading passenger carriages, made a year ago after a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

New figures show Britain's train operators have started running fewer than 100 new rolling stock vehicles in the past 12 months.

That is one fifth of the promised target.

[ image: John Prescott accepted operators' assurances]
John Prescott accepted operators' assurances
At the meeting last November, John Prescott agreed an action plan with the rail companies, to bring in around 500 new carriages during the following year.

But with a week to go before the anniversary of the deal, just 93 new vehicles are running.

London based train companies LTS Rail, South West Trains, Gatwick Express and Connex South East have not delivered a single vehicle, though a total of more than 350 carriages were expected.

ScotRail has only part of a new fleet.

Midland Mainline, Central and Anglia have introduced their promised new vehicles within the last 12 months. These make up the bulk of the 93 so far.

Train operators blamed manufacturing delays, plus difficulties in meeting Railtrack's requirements for safety approval.

But the shortfall is not only an embarrassment for the operators.

Based on what he had been told, Mr Prescott promised passengers better services were on the way.

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