George: Rail investment is the beginning, not the end
West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, has welcomed today’s Government announcement to provide a package of £multi million rail improvements in Cornwall. He has also highlighted that the rail investment is “the beginning, not the end” for improvements to train services from Penzance. Mr George has led the Parliamentary campaign for rail investment to Penzance.
Mr George said, “This is fantastic news. It’s been a long time coming. But this is just the beginning, not the end to the investment we deserve. Today’s announcement is only the first step. There’s a great deal more needed to improve our rail franchise, rolling stock and rail infrastructure to ensure we don’t get left behind.
“This package is welcome, but it is just a first step. We now need the investment necessary to ensure the resilience of the service; especially bearing in mind the likelihood of more regular extreme weather events and the potential disruption it will cause to the line. We also need a franchise contract which encourages long term investment and a significant upgrade to number, range and quality of train rolling stock.
“I will continue to campaign for the necessary investment and improvements to our rail services until we get a firm commitment from Government to provide a rail service in keeping with 21st century requirements.
“MPs across all parties, in Cornwall and the South West, have already voted not to deny communities on the London North corridor the £billions of investment necessary for HS2 to get underway. But it is only reasonable to continue to ask that the Government gives us a just share of investment to provide the resilient and reliable rail service from Penzance to Paddington. The petitioners and the thousands of locals who support them expect nothing less.
“One of the issues that still needs to be resolved is the difficulty securing sustainable investment when the franchise length is so short. The current 2 year interim franchise helps no one. 15 years, as originally proposed, will provide the commercial assurance necessary for franchise holders to invest for the future..
“Also, we need to continue to find resilient solutions to those parts of the route most susceptible to disruption; eg Dawlish and Cowley Bridge. These should be subject to finding an engineered solution followed by securing political commitment.
“I am glad that the Government have finally recognised the urgent need for improvements within our rail service. But, while I welcome today’s news, it comes with a caveat. It must be seen for what it is – the first step of many steps required to provide sustainable improvements across all our rail services on the Penzance line.”