Council leader takes new trains fight to the top

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans has written to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for the urgent replacement of ‘heritage’ rolling stock that is slowing down train journeys to the South West.

The Leader is urging the Government 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 letters call for urgent investment in new rolling stock, rather than an overhaul of existing trains, which are 40 years old and will need significant and expensive modifications to make them compliant with disability regulations.

Councillor Evans said that despite the South West peninsula having the oldest trains in the country the Government had not committed any investment here.

He said: “It is completely unacceptable that passengers travelling to Devon and Cornwall should have to put up with rolling stock from the 1970s – especially when there are plans to invest in new trains in other parts of the country.

“Trying to upgrade 40-year-old stock is a short-sighted and expensive approach and a waste of scarce resources. New trains would cut journey times to London as they have faster top speeds, can accelerate and decelerate much more quickly and their automatic doors reduce waiting times in stations.

“The Government has the opportunity to include a fleet of new trains on mainline services between London and the South West peninsula as part of the renewal of the Great Western franchise – which would go at least 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.”