Call for renewed campaign for rail improvements

Plymouth’s deputy leader Councillor Patrick Nicholson has called for a renewed and sustained campaign across the region to push for improvements to rail.

At Full Council today Councillor Nicholson told councillors that the 20-year plan to ‘Close the Gap’ would be launched and presented to Minister for Transport in Westminister tomorrow.

He said: “This is the culmination of extensive studies with partners to look at how we can achieve the aims ways to create a resilient and reliable railway, faster journey times and better connectivity and increased capacity and comfort.

“We are heading in the right direction. Last week we heard that the Peninsula Rail Taskforce had secured an extra £10 million to enable the Dawlish resilience studies and options appraisals to continue.

“We are being proactive and creating a plan over so that we shape the direction of investment that the peninsula desperately needs if it is to play its part in the country’s economic success story.”

Once the report has been launched it is key that the South West MPs and opinion formers across all sectors are active in lobbying Government for the funding to deliver the identified improvements, he said.

The report details specific rail investment measures under these themes split into short term: from 2017 to 2019, medium term from 2019 to 2029 and long term from 2029 to align with rail industry funding cycles.

Specifically the Council will develop a communications strategy to help shape lobbying from business and key partners and spread the message about the 20 year plan and its importance to the region’s economy.

It will also work with the All Party Parliamentary Group South West Rail as well as make representations into the Devon and Cornwall franchise debate, input into the refranchising specifications for GWR and Cross Country and maintain a regular dialogue with Network Rail and input into their route strategies.

The Council will continue to work with partners through the PRTF Board, he said and added: “Plymouth City Council has played a leading role in the development of this complex work, so I would like to play tribute to Tracey Lee, our Chief Executive and to John Hillman, our Rail Development Officer who have helped get us to this important milestone moment.

The Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan highlights the importance of strategic connectivity in order for the city to deliver its ambitious growth plans so we remain committed to lobbying for the 21st century rail network that Plymouth needs and deserves.