Parliamentary sketch – Railing against the naysayers
Six years ago we had to fight a rear-guard action to maintain the sleeper service from Penzance to Paddington. We succeeded then, and in doing so helped market the service for people who had either forgotten it existed or had assumed that it had closed years before!
The problem for me is that I, now, often have difficulties securing a berth on the service because it’s become so popular!
We also ran the risk of cuts to some of our “intercity” services from Penzance. We successfully fought to retain those services and, I hope, that in time we will see our services increase.
In recent years, there has been a gathering campaign to press for further investment in our essential rail services. I have always taken the firm view that, whilst rail users in Plymouth have been obsessed with shaving 15 to 20 minutes off the journey time to London, our priority should be reliability, punctuality, passenger comfort and competitive ticket pricing. Whether the journey from Penzance takes 4¾ or 5 hours is largely immaterial. All we want to know is that the train will arrive on time and that we have a seat and can sit in relative comfort during the journey.
So I have continually pressed Ministers for further investment and this week presented a petition of 3,000 local signatures all calling for a more “resilient” Penzance to Paddington rail service. The importance of this was brought home when the February storms cut the service off at both Penzance and at Dawlish. Whilst the damage at Dawlish made all the national headlines, the impact between Long Rock and Penzance was severe.
So we have pressed the Government for investment in our services, calling for further improvements in our sleeper service and, further, proposed a major investment in a Train Care Centre at Long Rock with the creation of 60 new local jobs.
This is certainly not asking too much. It would be a beginning not an end. Very few people seem to be aware that London and the South East are currently receiving £18 billion of public money in the very expensive Cross Rail project and a further £50 billion will be spent in future years developing High Speed 2 from London to the North.
All we ask is for a tiny fraction of the enormous sums being spent on services benefitting the wealthiest region in the country.
Congratulations must go to Cornwall Council on an excellent bid for this first phase of rail investment. We anticipate a favourable outcome.
Just one thing to watch though: when the good news arrives, I expect some “Johnny come latelies” will turn up to try and take the credit!
You can contact Andrew George by email: email@example.com. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
1st July 2014