Council leader calls for minister to replace ‘heritage’ rolling stock

Plymouth City Council Leader Tudor Evans is calling on the Government to urgently replace the ‘heritage rolling stock’ that is slowing down train journeys to South West Peninsula.

He has written to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin urging him to use the imminent award of a new Great Western franchise to address decades of under-funding that has left the region with the oldest trains and slowest journey times in the country.

His letter calls for the transport secretary to invest in new rolling stock rather than overhauling the 40-year-old High Speed Trains that will need expensive modifications to make them compliant with disability regulations. 

Councillor Evans said despite the South West peninsula having the oldest trains in the country, the Government had not committed any investment here despite announcing plans to invest in new trains serving cities and regions around the country such as the Northern Rail and Trans-Pennine Express routes.

He said: “It is totally unacceptable that other cities are reaping the benefits of new trains while we continue to have some of the oldest rolling stock in the country foisted on us.

“Passengers travelling to Devon and Cornwall have to put up with rolling stock belonging to an older age of the train. They were fit the 1970s, not the 21st century.

“New trains would cut journey times to London as they can accelerate and decelerate more quickly while automatic doors would reduce times in stations.

“The Government has the opportunity to include a fleet of new trains for all Great Western mainline services between the South West Peninsula and London Paddington as part of the renewal of the franchise. That would at least go some way to closing the ever widening gap between rail services in the South West and the rest of the country. This Government needs to stop prevaricating and start delivering.”