Page last updated at 07:15 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 08:15 UK

MP against 'rushed' rail upgrade

Reading railway station
Reading railway station is due to have a 500m upgrade

A Reading MP has argued against the idea of bringing forward an upgrade to the town's railway station.

The 400m project was expected to begin in 2010 but the government is hoping to boost employment by starting earlier.

Rob Wilson, MP for Reading East, said "rushing" the station could lead to poor planning and mistakes.

He told Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell in the Commons that it was not the answer to short-term unemployment.

Mr Wilson said: "Whilst we all want to keep unemployment down, Reading Station is far too important to the regional economy to rush it forward.

'Odd approach'

"Network Rail informed me that any attempt to rush it could be counter-productive and might lead to poor planning and mistakes.

"It is also extremely unlikely that it would make a difference to unemployment rates in the next 18 months to two years, so what's the point in rushing it?"

He said "reckless" spending would only make matters worse in the longer-term.

Mr Purnell responded: "Well he's very welcome to campaign against investment in his constituency if he wants to. It is a very odd approach is all I can say."

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