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Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 23:37 GMT
Tories and Labour turn to the rails
Train leaving Victoria station
The railways are likely to be a focus in an election campaign
The rail industry has had its confidence undermined by government carping and criticism, Conservative transport spokesman Bernard Jenkin has said.

After Tony Blair and William Hague fired the first shots in what is widely seen as the pre-election campaign phoney war, Mr Jenkin took to Victoria station to hand out leaflets as part of a Tory campaign to highlight what the party believes are Labour failures of public services.

No industry can have confidence under that sort of onslaught

Bernard Jenkin
The leaflet shows a commuter standing on a platform and says: "You paid the tax so where are the trains."

At the same time Labour Party activists handed out leaflets in the same area of London and accused the Tories of plans to make cuts to transports, hospitals and schools.

Mr Jenkin said: "We know there has been a consistent campaign of criticism, carping and vilification (of the rail industry) from John Prescott and other members of the government.

"No industry can have confidence under that sort of onslaught - management have lost confidence and the ability to manage."

Bernard Jenkin
Bernard Jenkin: Attacked Labour's record
He said an incoming Tory government would provide a stable environment in which the rail industry could flourish.

"People are beginning to scratch their heads and say: "Didn't John Prescott promise an integrated transport policy?" Clearly what's been going on is not an integrated transport policy - another promise they failed to deliver."

'Botched privatisation'

But Transport Minister Lord Macdonald said the Tories had "botched rail privatisation and starved the railways of the investment they desperately need".

He said the system would get the necessary investment under Labour.

"The British people will not be fooled. They know that the Tories will cut back severely on transport investment, just as they have always done.

"They know that the Tories will drain the railways of the investment they desperately need and which they will get with Labour."

He added: "Instead of asking where the trains are, William Hague should be apologising to commuters for the way the Tories privatised the railways."

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See also:

04 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Railtrack 'U-turn' attacked
13 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Railtrack savaged by MPs
12 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tough Blair stance on rail services
07 Jan 01 | UK
Anger as train fares rise
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