October 23 2019
Chair of the PRTF board, Cllr Andrea Davis, met with Minister of State of Transport, Chris Heaton Harris to discuss priorities for the South West rail network
09 September 2019
South West once again at the bottom of Government transport spending agenda
The Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) is calling on the Government to review transport spending for the South West region in light of a recent report by the thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research North (IPPR North).
Analysis of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2019 by IPPR North has revealed the South West to be one of the worst funded regions for transport spending over the last decade and has consistently fallen in the bottom quartile for annual transport spending per captia.
Cllr Andrea Davis, Chairman of PRTF said: “The IPPR North’s report demonstrates a gross inadequacy of investment across the UK. The PRTF outlined our 20 year plan for investment for the region, we now call on the government to work with us and secure long term investment to address this imbalance.”
Further analysis, by IPPR North, of planned central and local public/private transport infrastructure beyond 2018/19 reports that the South West will be third worst funded region per capita. The region is reported to receive an investment of only £651per capita. This is nearly half that of the North, which is due to receive of £1247per capita, with the imbalance increasing to £2692per capita in the West Midlands, and £3636 in London.
Cllr Davis continues: “Whilst there have been significant improvements to the South West rail network in recent years, including the rollout of the new Hitachi trains and the Governments commitment to resilience works at Dawlish, the government needs to commit to major long term investment to ensure we have a resilient, reliable rail network for the South West Peninsula.”
“The PRTF will continue to work closely with Network Rail, the train operators and the Department for Transport. The South West has the potential to thrive economically but this remains untapped until major infrastructure improvements are introduced.”
Full details of IPPR North’s analysis of ONS figures can be found in their document “Transport investment in the Northern Powerhouse”.
30 April 2019
Peninsula Rail Task Force submits formal response to the Williams Rail Review
The Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) has welcomed the opportunity to submit a response to the Call for Evidence to the Williams Review announced in December 2018.
In preparing its response, which was submitted today, members of the PRTF Board met with representatives of the review team to discuss the direction of emerging conclusions that have been reached from evidence papers published to date.
Chair of the PRTF, Cllr Andrea Davis said: “We are currently seeing some of the highest levels of investment in railways, and we must ensure value for money for the taxpayer. PRTF is pleased to see that the Williams Review also wants to see passengers at the forefront of much needed change.
”The PRTF’s 20 year plan, “Closing the Gap”, outlines current and future ambitions for the Peninsula railway, and we hope the results of the review will assist and not hinder the industry in delivering this.”
The PRTF reports that the rail industry is currently fragmented as a result of competing goals across the public and private sector. This is impacting on delivering the ultimate aim of a reliable and resilient railway.
It adds that the existing operating model for the rail industry is not fit for purpose and the PRTF joins the call for the establishment of an industry wide strategic body to interpret government policy into an overall framework.
PRTF believes this will assist the industry in planning for a longer term rail strategy, which is currently difficult with conflicting timescales for Control Periods and franchise contracts.
Cllr Davis continued: “We need to ensure that the South West rail network does not fall behind the level of service in other parts of the country, so are concerned to see that trade-offs will be required. We do not want to see fast main line services at the cost of local branch lines; both are essential to the South West economy.
“The Williams Review needs to be ambitious and innovative. It is an opportunity to shape the future vision for railway and we look forward to the release of the white paper in the Autumn.”
Five years after the Dawlish line closure and the Government announces funding for the first phase of major resilience works (15/02/19)
Five years after storms destroyed the Dawlish rail line the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) welcomes today’s announcement by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State, of £80 million in funding to commence the first phase of major resilience works to the Dawlish sea wall.
The combined events at Dawlish, the closure of Cowley Bridge and the flooding of the Somerset Levels devastated the peninsula economy in 2014, costing the South West an estimated £1.2 billion.
Councillor Andrea Davis, PRTF Chair said: “We have always been clear that Dawlish is our top priority and this is the first step towards seeing a resilient railway in the South West.
“The Secretary of State has been continuously quoted as saying that Dawlish is the number one rail priority for the Government and this is evidence of its good intentions. Chris Grayling’s commitment is a positive step, which we welcome.
“It is essential that the rail line remains open to protect the South West’s economy. The line’s vulnerability during adverse weather cannot be allowed to dictate the level of service endured by passengers in the region.”
Network Rail has been working with world-leading experts to find solutions to ensure resilience of the line at Dawlish.
PRTF now looks forward to the physical delivery of the project proposed by Network Rail to increase the height of the sea wall to 7.5m, a project that will yield a long awaited solution to the vulnerability of the section at Dawlish.
The next priority for Network Rail and the Government is to deliver plans and funding for resilience works from Parsons Tunnel to Teignmouth, which the PRTF will continue to campaign for.
Councillor Davis added: “The announcement by Chris Grayling of funding on Friday 15 February is a good step forward. We look forward to working with Network Rail and DfT to guarantee the South West has a long-term solution and a plan of action to deliver a reliable and resilient rail network.”