AN AMBITIOUS initiative to modernise nearly half of Britain's decaying railway stations has been all but abandoned because of cost cutting.
Rail chiefs wanted to renovate 1,000 stations, but have decided there is only enough money for 68. Hundreds of stations will be left without lavatories, waiting rooms, passenger security and information systems.
The government's Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has decided that only 13 of the 68 will have lavatories, just one will get a public address system, five will get waiting rooms and only 19 will benefit from closed circuit television (CCTV). The authority has also said that public toilets should be removed from 25 stations.
Spending on the stations has been cut from pounds 53.4m to pounds 25.6m after an investigation by Tom Winsor, the rail regulator. News of the cuts to investment in the rail network calls into question the Government's 10- year plan, which was meant to lure people out of their cars and on to trains. Under the strategy announced in 2000 by John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, the number of passengers using trains was to have expanded by 50 per cent in a decade. Observers believe that ministers will be lucky to achieve half that level. Anthony Smith, director of the Rail Passengers' Council, said there seemed to be no immediate way of bridging the funding gap.
"There may be lots of new trains and they may have been able to improve performance, but there will still be lots of …