Peninsula Rail Task Force proposals  - Prime Minister puts them on track for the future

Members of the Peninsula Rail Task Force and MP Gary Streeter met with the Prime Minister, David Cameron today to discuss rail plans for the South West. 

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. He has offered to talk to officials at the Department of Transport to  consider the entire suite of proposals set out by the Task Force, including additional routes to the Dawlish mainline.

Chair 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 6 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. “

Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, Steve Hindley said: “Greater certainty is essential to build confidence for business. Today’s meeting has been useful in highlighting to Government that our transport network requires a wholesale review – piecemeal or partial solutions will not provide the results we need.

“We cannot afford another winter where storms take out our road and rail lines on such a widespread basis; businesses are still recovering from the losses sustained last year. The Prime Minister’s approach was encouraging and we feel that he has a better understanding of the challenges for Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay now as a result.”

Gary 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. “

ends

Notes to Editors –

For more detail about our solutions please see www.resiliencesouthwest.co.uk or by contacting Coast Communications on 01579 352 600 / info@resiliencesouthwest.co.uk

The Peninsula Rail Task Force is a rail improvement campaign group comprising Cornwall Council, Cornwall and Scillies LEP, Devon County Council, Heart of the South West LEP, Plymouth City Council, Somerset County Council and Torbay Council.

More detail on the priorities is outlined below :

1) A resilient and reliable railway – getting to the starting line

Dawlish -­‐  OUR LIFELINE 

WHAT: Enhance resilience of the existing coastal route

WHY:  Network Rail is obliged under the terms of its licence to maintain or renew old assets to a modern replacement standard capable of doing the same or better job. Dawlish is essential for our rail network to survive; however we cannot wait until 2034 for the route to be safeguarded. We need this as an absolute minimum.   COST: estimated £398 -­‐ £659m  

East of Exeter Resilience

WHAT: Lengthen loops on the Waterloo line between Exeter, Yeovil and Castle Cary and a longer term solution for Bridgwater, with a barrage for the River Parrett 

WHY: This will create greater resilience, providing a diversionary route to the mainline to London, and protect the line across the Somerset Levels

COST: estimated £100m 

2) Faster journey times and better connectivity -­‐ upgrading performance

Improving our existing network and rolling stock

WHAT: Through modern rolling stock from Thames Valley with greater acceleration and automatic doors, enhanced signalling and track improvements in Exeter, Westbury, Reading – London areas

WHY: Improved journey time, performance and timetabling capacity for faster and more frequent trains between London and the South West – Somerset, Devon, Torbay, Plymouth and Cornwall

COST: estimated £1bn 

Electrification – futureproofing  

WHAT : Continue the planned programme of electrification from Newbury to Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance and the cross country route through Bristol to Birmingham

WHY: As the last and only region without plans for electrification, no new diesel rolling stock will be procured, so we will be running on obsolete stock by 2043 and losing £73m a year through GVA

COST: estimated £2bn (plus 66% contingency)  

3) Sufficient capacity and quality – meeting passenger needs, growing expectations

West of Exeter -­‐     Exeter to Newton Abbot

WHAT: An additional line between Exeter and Newton Abbot

WHY:  As shown by Network Rail’s Western Route Study, the mix of different speed trains on this section means it cannot accommodate sufficient services to meet demand, so four tracks between Exeter and Newton Abbot are required to meet capacity, providing additional resilience and reducing journey time

COST: estimated £1.49bn -­‐ £3.1bn

West of Exeter Northern Route Metro Link

WHAT: Implementation of a northern route via Okehampton

WHY: Expand the Devon Metro network to provide new local rail connections to Exeter and Plymouth for communities in West Devon and North Cornwall.

COST: estimated £350m -­‐ £750m

For more detail about our solutions please see the accompanying proposed programme of improvements. You can also find more information at: www.resiliencesouthwest.co.uk or by contacting Coast Communications on 01579 352 600 / info@resiliencesouthwest.co.uk

The Peninsula Rail Task Force is a rail improvement campaign group comprising Cornwall Council, Cornwall and Scillies LEP, Devon County Council, Heart of the South West LEP, Plymouth City Council, Somerset County Council and Torbay Council.

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