Welcome for Penzance-London rail announcement – George
West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, has welcomed today’s Government announcement on the rewarding of an interim rail franchise to First Great Western. This will safeguard and permit improvements to be made to rail services over the next 23 months and safeguard jobs and investment in Penzance and Long Rock.
The Department for Transport has announced that First Great Western will continue to run local services and the Penzance to London trains until September 2015.
Among the changes will be an additional two carriages on the sleeper service, improved Wifi on long distance services and the retention of through trains to London.
Mr George is urging Government Ministers to use the interim period to prepare plans for major investments in Penzance and the Long Rock Depot, which he believes could be given the capacity to take on more work and provide a significant jobs boost for the area.
Mr George is also continuing to campaign for longer term investment in local and inter-city rail services.
“It helps to have this interim reassurance about the continuity of the service. However, we will keep up the pressure on Government Ministers to ensure that the next full franchise is long enough to give the operator confidence to commit to significant long term investment in service quality, upgrades and affordable ticket pricing.
“The interim franchise should not be used as an excuse to delay investment decisions in our essential rail connections over the next two years. If the Government wants to show that it is not so obsessed with its HS2 project that it will leave mainline services like ours to Penzance withering on the vine, then we must see further investments in Sleeper service refurbishment, relieving problems of overcrowding and improvements in passenger comfort.”
Today’s announcement is part of the continued roll out of the new rail franchising schedule. The Government has agreed a 23 month direct award with FGW to run services from London Paddington to west and south west England and south Wales and commuter services into Paddington until September 2015. A further contract will be negotiated before a long-term franchise is let.