Campaigners meet Cameron over South West improvements

After the recent announcements leading up to the Autumn Statement, the Prime Minister has provided reassurance that the wider rail connectivity is vital to the South West.

David Cameron has offered to talk to officials at the Department of Transport to consider the entire suite of proposals set out by the Peninsula Rail Task Force, including additional routes away from the coast.

Chairman of the Peninsula Rail Task Force, Cllr. Andrew Leadbetter said: “We are pleased by the Prime Minister’s response. Our rail network is bursting at the seams, lacking in resilience and in serious need of more capacity. However, we can’t just tackle these issues in isolation.

“Faster journey times need better rolling stock, better signalling and better scheduling. We need far more capacity than we have at present, since our growth is 123%, over double the national rate of 61%.

“The Prime Minister has accepted that we have put forward a package of six proposals that interrelate and together can address the wider issues of resilience, faster journey times and greater capacity. We welcome his agreement to talk to the Department of Transport, and explore how we can work with officials to develop the detail of the long-term plans for the wider connectivity report, and look at the whole picture. “

Streeter MP for Devon South West, who organised the delegation, said: “ This is an important step in our campaign to secure a better transport network. There have been some welcome announcements about investment this week,  but it is important to ensure that our priorities for rail are considered altogether, not just bit by bit.

“We can work with Network Rail and other partners to ensure plans can convert into solutions, capable of being delivered in the right sequence and within a realistic timescale. The communities and businesses of the South West need to be able to rely on their rail and this commitment is crucial to achieving a resilient and faster network. “

The meeting followed an Autumn Statement announced that said: “The government will support Network Rail in its work to improve the resilience of the railway at Dawlish. Additionally, it will ask Network Rail to examine wider issues surrounding connectivity to and within the south-west peninsula. Specifically, Network Rail will consider alternatives to the current mainline route to the south-west via Dawlish, including an alternative route via the north side of Dartmoor through Okehampton.

This work will feed into Network Rail’s Initial Industry Plan for Control Period 6.”


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