Closing the Gap – the South West Peninsula strategic rail blueprint launched today – Tuesday 22 November 2016

The Peninsula Rail Task Force has launched ‘Closing the Gap’ – the plan for investment into the South West Peninsula’s strategic rail network, which has been submitted to the Government today.

‘Closing the Gap’ defines the Task Force’s ambition of a 21st century rail network underpinned by three priorities: resilience and reliability, faster journey times and improved connectivity with sufficient capacity.

Chair of the Peninsula Rail Task Force, Councillor Andrew Leadbetter said: “The submission of ‘Closing the Gap’ is a significant milestone for the Task Force after carrying out extensive research and study with the rail industry. 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 resource pressure on Network Rail but our rail line is essential for our economic growth and our communities.

“At present our railway lets us down. We have a line that remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather. An average journey speed of 69mph compared with 90mph in other regions that is only likely to get worse with HS2. We have passenger growth of 128%, twice the national average over the last 21 years. It is now time to close these gaps.

“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 whilst the improvements of the 20 year plan are delivered.

“Developing the report has been a long and complex project and would not have been possible without support from our partners. We would like to thank Network Rail, the Department for Transport, our local authorities, our Local Enterprise Partnerships, Great Western Railway, our Members of Parliament, University of Plymouth, stakeholders and other agencies as well as our communities and businesses for their contributions and input into the report.

“The Task Force will continue to work closely with the Government to put our plan into action. The South West’s rail network cannot be transformed overnight but we must tackle the decades of underinvestment and we cannot afford any further delay.”

The report is available to download from


Peninsula Rail Task Force: Operational Statement – Tuesday 21/06/2016

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Chair of the Peninsula Rail Task Force said:
“I can confirm that we have opted to reschedule the publication of the 20 Year Plan report until after the summer. We need to make the strongest possible case to Government for rail improvements. To do this, we require information that is not yet in the public domain.

“The publication of the latest economic data, journey time study findings and the Dawlish resilience study, are all scheduled in the coming weeks and rescheduling the publication of the report will allow the work on these topics to be finalised.

“The report is a complex document, which needs to take into account contributions from a diverse range of partners including Network Rail, the Department of Transport, local authorities, the LEPs and other agencies, as well as our communities and businesses. We have only one opportunity to make the strongest case we possibly can to the Government for rail improvements: it is therefore essential that we get it right.”


Last chance to comment on rail plans for the South West – Monday 23/05/2016

This week sees the end of the consultation on the Peninsula Rail Task Force’s draft 20 Year Plan for rail improvements across the South West. Launched earlier this month, the plan sets out the vision for rail connectivity across the peninsula and potential improvements to achieve this over the next 20 years…. Cont.


Rail Task Force calls for feedback on 20 year vision for the rail network – Friday 06/05/2016

The Peninsula Rail Task Force has launched the consultation on its 20-year plan for the South West rail network. The plan sets out the vision for the peninsula’s rail connectivity and the potential improvements needed to achieve this over the next 20 years…. Cont.


News from South Devon Railway – Wednesday 10/02/2016

South Devon Railway Winter Steam Festival will go ahead as planned as a speedy recovery is undertaken to clear a landslip caused by storm Imogen. Staff at the South Devon Railway have been working against the clock to clear and repair the tracks in time for the half term festival which will go ahead as advertised. More information on the South Devon Railway can be found at:


Press statement from TravelWatch SouthWest CIC – Tuesday 09/02/2016

In response to the news that GWR will be commissioning and funding the Network Rail Study the Government asked the Peninsula Rail Task Force to prepare for this summer.

TravelWatch SouthWest, the region’s passenger watchdog, calls for Network Rail’s duties to include “improvement” so studies like the one which GWR is funding, become a standard part of their route studies.

TravelWatch SouthWest welcomes the announcement that GWR will be commissioning and funding a Network Rail study into what can be done to the existing rail infrastructure to improve linespeeds and maximise the benefit of the new trains GWR are introducing between London, Devon and Cornwall. Without the study, a report the Government asked the Peninsula Rail Task Force to prepare for the summer, outlining a realistic aspirational plan for the route, would have been missing a vital component… Cont.


Response from Peninsula Rail Task Force – funding announcement – Tuesday 09/02/2016

“We are pleased that the funding has been found to explore the potential for faster journey time and electrification for the Peninsula Rail Task Force report. We alerted DfT about this issue in December, so it is helpful that this has finally been sorted, and our sincere thanks to our MPs who have been so active in this regard.

The Task Force has been working with the Department of Transport and Network Rail since last summer on planning the report and naturally Great Western Railway has been a key partner in our work.The support from GWR enables us to fulfil our joint commitment to a detailed and rigorous document, which is something that all of agreed was required from the outset. We are grateful to GWR for its timely intervention.

It is clear that after a weekend of substantial disruption, our railway network is long over due investment. Our report is a crucial step towards achieving a rail network fit for the 21st Century. ”


Mind the Gap – call for crucial funding for rail report – Thursday 21/01/2016

The Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) is calling on the Transport Minister to step in and provide crucial funding for two network rail studies that will form part of the evidence for investment into the South West rail network.

Chair of the PRTF, Cllr Andrew Leadbetter said:

“When we were invited by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to put forward our plans for the South West rail network, we were pleased that our issues of poor connectivity were finally being recognised… Cont.