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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Sterling support for night train
First Great Western overnight sleeper service
The new franchise is due to begin on 1 April 2006
Cornish MPs have met the Transport Minister Derek Twigg on Wednesday in a bid to retain the overnight sleeper train from Penzance to London.

A 3,000-signature petition was also handed in to Downing Street by campaigners, including the ex-governor of the Bank of England, Eddie George.

The government claims the train loses 2.5m a year and there are fears the service could be scrapped.

But the figures have been disputed by the Save Our Sleeper (SOS) campaign.

There is everything to play for. If we can demonstrate enough support for the train, we will save it
Andrew Roden, Save Our Sleeper

MPs and business leaders have raised concerns over the sleeper service because the new rail franchise bidding process asks bidders to cost it separately from other services and suggest alternatives to it.

Many are concerned the sleeper service to Paddington could be axed as early as next April.

The government has refused to guarantee its survival despite appeals in Commons debates.

The Department of Transport has said the train is underused - and on average only a third of the 64 berths are occupied, but SOS also disputes these figures.

Spokesman Andrew Roden said: "It can be a nightmare to book a berth, even weeks in advance.

Economic need

"Train staff have told me it is now busier than it has been for many years as a result of our campaign.

"There is everything to play for. If we can demonstrate enough support for the train, we will save it."

SOS claim the sleeper, known as the "Night Riviera" is vital to the county's economy. They say it is used by people wanting to get flights from London, workers wanting to get to the office before nine and tourists travelling to Cornwall.

The Department for Transport will chose the successful bidder and the new Greater Western franchise will start on 1 April 2006.


FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Plymouth Evening Herald Lord backs sleeper service campaign - 21 hrs ago
Cornish Guardian 'Steady Eddie' in rail battle - 25 hrs ago
Western Daily Press Sleeper team take fight to no.10 - 25 hrs ago
Telegraph Cornwall-to-London petition to save sleeper - 32 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Sleeper train to Cornwall may face final red light - 55 hrs ago
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SEE ALSO:
2,000 sign petition to save train
22 Aug 05 |  Cornwall
1,000 sign to save sleeper train
31 Jul 05 |  Cornwall
Sleeper train losing 2.5m a year
25 Jul 05 |  Cornwall
MPs join forces against train cut
26 Jun 05 |  Cornwall
Train row rumbles on in Commons
22 Jun 05 |  Cornwall


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