Improvements to the railway over the next 20 years could bring benefits of more than £8.5 billion to the South West.
That is one of the findings from the Peninsula Rail Task Force’s Closing the Gap report, submitted to Government today (November 22).
The improvements are part of the Taskforce’s plans for what it calls a 21st century railway. The plans are underpinned by three priorities: resilience and reliability; faster journey times; and improved connectivity with sufficient capacity.
PRTF Chairman Andrew Leadbetter said: “Our message to Government is clear - there must be real enhancements to our rail network, improving existing provision. Reduced services, loss of connections and slower trains are unacceptable.
“The Task Force recognises there is a huge funding and resource pressure on Network Rail, but our rail line is essential for our economic growth and connectivity for our communities.”
He said currently the railway lets the region down, highlighting an average speed of 69mph compared with 90mph in other regions.
“We have passenger growth of 128%, twice the national average over the last 21 years. It is now time to close these gaps,” he added.
“Our business case shows that investment will allow our economy to grow by over £8.5bn in the coming years. Better connectivity will boost business, support communities, provide employment and education opportunities, and offer visitors a high-quality journey to a premier tourist destination. All are vital to the region’s prosperity.
“We acknowledge that not all of the improvements can take place immediately, and therefore seek to enhance the passenger experience while the improvements of the 20-year plan are delivered.”
- For more on this story, and on plans for the Dawlish Sea Wall, read RAIL 815, published on December 7.