Shadow transport secretary experiences need for rail investment first hand


TUDOR_PLYMOUTH_MAP_04 (2)Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh experienced for herself why Plymouth is campaigning hard for Government investment in better rail services.

The MP started a day long visit to Plymouth by joining Council Leader Tudor Evans to travel from Exeter to Plymouth along the route through Dawlish that was closed for months after storms earlier this year.

The 40 mile journey takes an hour despite it being the peninsula’s main line route to London.

The MP was visiting Plymouth to discuss the key transport issues for Britain’s Ocean City, including:

 The urgent need for investment in faster and more resilient rail services between Plymouth and London

  • The fact that the Government’s spend per head on transport in the Peninsula is £151 less than the UK average and it’s fallen in real terms
  • The need to end the big disparity in Government funding for potholes between urban areas such as Plymouth and rural areas.
  • The priorities for improving rail services that Plymouth is campaigning for, including: more rolling stock cascaded from other parts of the country to increase the capacity and frequency of services; a fast and resilient inland route in addition to the Dawlish route; new trains as part of a programme of electrification of lines from 2019 and better local services with a new hourly stopping service between Penzance, Plymouth and extensions to Exeter.

Councillor Evans also presented Ms Creagh with a map of the national strategic transport corridors that includes Plymouth, asking her to give it to the Transport Minister, who has a similar map on his office wall that entirely misses off South Devon and most of Cornwall.

The shadow transport secretary then visited the Royal William Yard to see the City’s new bike scheme in action before cycling back to the Council House.

Tudor Evans said: “The shadow secretary saw for herself just how badly the South West needs investment in faster rail services so we can at least enjoy a similar level of service as other major UK cities and regions. The fact that it takes so long to travel 40 miles using a main line really hits home just how far the lack of Government investment has put us behind.

“We also talked about Plymouth’s share of the £168m national Pothole Fund announced in March which was only £359,114, which works out at £443 per kilometre, while Devon received £700 per kilometre. It makes no sense that a largely rural area such as Devon should receive £250 more per kilometre than Plymouth, particularly given the much greater wear and tear on urban roads.

“We also had a really good discussion about how she can support Plymouth’s case in Parliament both now as shadow minister, as well as the difference she could make if she becomes the Transport Secretary in a future Government. She has a really good understanding of our agenda and I know she’ll be helping press our case in Westminster.”

Ends

Pictured: Council Leader Tudor Evans and Councillor Mark Coker, Cabinet member for Transport, present Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh with a strategic transport corridor map that includes Devon and Cornwall for her to give to the Transport Secretary, who currently has a map in his Westminster office which misses the two counties off entirely.