Rail resilience petition launched
West Cornwall MP, Andrew George – who challenged the Prime Minister on the day that the Penzance to Paddington to rail line was breached at Dawlish two weeks ago – has launched a petition urging local people to build up pressure on the Government to make sure that the area secures the investment necessary for a resilient rail service from Penzance to Paddington.
Mr George on 5th February 2014 asked the PM:
“Following the most recent storms, residents in Cornwall have been concerned that England will be completely cut off.
“In view of that, while MPs from Cornwall and the south-west have been content to support the billions of pounds necessary for HS2 and other transport projects to the north, does the Prime Minister accept that relatively small amounts are now needed to ensure the resilience of the rail line between Penzance and Paddington?”
The PM replied agreeing that the future of the rail line was an “urgent requirement” to get this right.
Since then, Mr George has met Transport Secretary, Rt. Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP and travelled with the Deputy Prime Minister – Rt. Hon Nick Clegg MP – to Cornwall last week to reinforce the message that the Government must give the rail service the investment it deserves.
Mr George said: “Whilst Network Rail is battling to restore the rail line at Dawlish, I am pleased that the Government is supporting Network Rail which is undertaking urgent scoping work to explore a long term and resilient solution which would avoid the kind of disruption we are experiencing now and experienced only 14 months ago when the Cowley Bridge area was flooded.
“MPs across all Parties in Cornwall and the South West have not denied communities to the north the investment necessary to allow HS2 to get underway. It is therefore not too much to ask that the Government gives us a fraction of that investment to provide a resilient rail services from Penzance.
“I fear that we may have missed the kind of investment which would have provided us with resilience if it were not for the obsession of some who have sought to cut 15 minutes off the journey time to Paddington. This is a very different type of investment to the kind of works that may be necessary to produce a more reliable and resilient service – something which has always been my priority.
“I hope that recent history will encourage everyone to acknowledge that our top priorities for our rail service have to be resilience and reliability, with passenger comfort and competitive ticket pricing a close second; but attempts to shave a miniscule amount of time off a generally 5 to 5½ hour rail service is a lower priority – no matter how desirable that may be.”