01 March 2017
Rail Minister says Peninsula is “a priority” for future rail investment
Rail Minister Paul Maynard has confirmed that the South West Peninsula is a priority for future Government investment in rail.
Mr Maynard was speaking at a meeting in London yesterday with the Peninsula Rail Task Force to discuss the Government’s response to the Task Force’s 20-year investment plan report, “Closing the Gap”.
The Minister said that from the Secretary of State Chris Grayling down, the Department for Transport viewed the Peninsula as “a priority”. “We’re clear why you matter” he said.
Mr Maynard told the Task Force delegation that the findings within “Closing the Gap” were “compelling” and “very much in line with our thinking”.
The Minister’s comments were welcomed by the Task Force Chairman, Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, who led the delegation.
Cllr Leadbetter said: “The Minister’s response was very encouraging and a clear indication that the Government is taking the Task Force’s recommendations for future investment very seriously.
“It was a positive discussion and I am grateful for the support of MPs Oliver Colvile and Gary Streeter at the meeting. Our discussion included crucial resilience improvements at Dawlish, Teignmouth and Cowley, improving services to Plymouth, the case for re-opening services to Okehampton and Tavistock and the need for an enhanced diversionary route between Castle Cary and Yeovil Junction in times of flooding on the Levels. We will also receive an update later this week from Network Rail on progress with their resilience improvement works, and the Task Force is pursuing possible improvements in the short term with the rail operators.
“The Department for Transport is currently taking rail industry advice on potential investment plans for Control Period 6 which will run from 2019-2024. This is a critical period for our region when we need to see significant investment to drive forward major improvements in our rail services.
“The Minister was hopeful that decisions would be announced later this year as part of a national investment programme. He did say that he saw no reason why the Task Force should be anything other than optimistic about the outcome.
“What that outcome is remains to be seen, but supported by Peninsula MPs we will continue to keep up the pressure on Government to deliver the vital investment that our region’s rail network needs.”
Autumn Budget (22 November 2017) – Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) Comment
Geoff Brown, PRTF Chairman, said: “We are concerned that there is no obvious allocation of funds towards meeting the objectives contained within the PRTF 20 year blueprint of rail improvements that was presented to Government last November. There is clear investment into other regions and the rail network across the country. Yet again it seems the South West is bottom of the pack.”
Peninsula Rail Task Force: statement in response to DfT’s announcement on GWR franchise – Wednesday 29/11/2017
Cllr Geoff Brown, Chair of Peninsula Rail Task Force said:
“We are pleased to see that the Department for Transport has opted to extend the franchise for Great Western Railways, creating vital stability and certainty. It will enable passengers to gain the full benefits of the new fleet of intercity express trains right across the South West network which, together with a range of other planned improvements, will make our rail services better, faster and more resilient.”
“I welcome the consultation announced by the DfT today. This provides an opportunity for us to consult with our stakeholders on the important role the next franchise will play in continuing to improve our railways. We will look closely at the potential benefits for passengers from having a smaller franchise area. However, if this means that the South West continues to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of rail provision whilst investments go elsewhere, simply because our franchise area has been reduced, then we will consult our business community, passenger groups and work with our local MPs to ensure the DfT reconsiders.”