Rest easy the Cornish sleeper train is saved!

14 December 2005

ASLEF is delighted that trade secretary Alistair Darling has ensued that the Cornish sleeper train will be retained. General Secretary Keith Norman says the union joined the campaign not because of a romantic attachment to the past but because it provides a genuine service to business and holiday-makers, takes traffic off the roads and increases public attachment to railways.

"We urged ASLEF members to join the fight to keep the service, and Alistair Darling has reacted to the lobbying by insisting on a franchise condition that the overnight sleeper between London and Penzance is retained," Keith says. Passenger numbers have increased by 15 per cent in four years. Even now, well out of the tourist season, the service is running at 70 per cent capacity. The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) issued a consultation paper in June on the future of the service also known as the Night Riviera - but the longer it failed to make a decision, the firmer suspicions grew that it was for the chop.

Fellow supporters of the campaign included Cornwall County Council, Members of Parliament representing all three parties from constituencies along the route and many businesses based in Devon and Cornwall, as well as individuals.

Claimed financial savings lacked conviction. First Great Western, the operator, claimed that the cut would save £1 million but the SRA and the government at one stage claimed £5 million.

The matter came to a resolution with yesterday¹s written statement from Alistair Darling. He said that one of the conditions of the First Group being awarded contracts to run the Greater Western and Thameslink/Great Northern franchises from this coming April was that it retained the overnight sleeper.

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