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Extra carriages for Kent trains?

GOVENMENT ministers say a pledge to add 1,000 extra carriages across the rail network will help ease the problems of over-crowded trains in areas like Kent.

Rail minister Douglas Alexander said the commitment to build the extra carriages would be a key element of the government's efforts to meet the rising demand for rail services in the south east.

But it was not immediately clear exactly how many of the 1,000 new carriages would be added to the Kent network and if the announcement included proposals for new domestic services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link - now known as High Speed One.

Southeastern trains, which runs Kent rail services, said it assumed the 1,000 extra carriages included the 29 new six-carriage trains it would be operating from December 2009 and that had already been ordered.

In a statement, a spokesman for the rail operator said: "It is anticipated Kent's expanding population, and regeneration projects will create a strong demand for these new services as well as for the existing 'classic' services which already serve passengers travelling from Kent to London Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street."

In a speech, Mr Alexander said: "It is commonsense that often the most cost-effective and quickest way to add capacity in [these] congested areas is through lengthening trains. We need to see what more can be done to increase capacity."

The "unprecedented period of economic growth" would continue to "place increasing pressure on key sections of the network," he added.

Under the scheme, the government will pay for the carriages and lease them to train companies.

The Department for Transport said the details of where the additional carriages would go would be worked out in the summer.

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