'No strategy for rail in South West': city MP

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By Plymouth Herald | Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 05:30

A LACK of reliable transport links between Plymouth and the rest of the country "worries the hell" out of people and businesses, ministers have been told.

The Government has been accused of having no "strategic direction" for rail in the region, which has been severely disrupted by the recent heavy rainfall.

With no air link, and when the motorway was closed due to accidents, the peninsula was "effectively cut off", the Commons heard.

The serious problem with reliability and resilience of the rail network came against a backdrop of unacceptable fare hikes, argued Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View Alison Seabeck.

Rail spending per head in the South West was just a third of that in the rest of the country, she said.

Ms Seabeck was also concerned that future work plans by Network Rail for the region's track failed to mention Cowley bridge, where the mainline was shut by flooding.

So-called 'connectivity' has long been seen as the biggest issue facing the region, and this was reinforced by the vulnerability of transport links shown over the last month.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on the rising cost of transport, Ms Seabeck told MPs: "We know that the increases are hitting low and middle-income families hardest, and we in the South West simply cannot accept them, particularly as we lose out in identifiable rail expenditure, as the answer to my recent parliamentary question showed. We get just £40 a head, compared with £119 elsewhere."

Urging support of Plymouth City Council plans for a rail resilience taskforce, Ms Seabeck added: "We understand fare increases if we see improvements and investment, but the Government have no strategic direction for rail in the South West, and the likelihood of more heavy rain and more problems frankly worries the hell out of people and businesses in particular.

"We cannot escape the fact that we have a serious problem that will not be resolved by super peak tickets and more money going to rail company shareholders." Transport difficulties were also raised by Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Oliver Colvile.

He asked the Minister: "Does he recognise that in the South West we have a very big problem with flooding? We need to have the A303 dualled and the A38 sorted out.

"We need more trains getting into Plymouth early, and we need to ensure that we have more three-hour train journeys."

Responding, Transport Minister Norman Baker said he had witnessed the problems on the rail line during a recent visit.

"I am taking that specific matter up with Network Rail," he said.

      

Comments

       
  • Profile image for TrubblnStrife

    At least these issues are finally being aired in Parliament. The only good thing to be said about this winter's floods is that they have finally made the rest of the nation aware of our plight here in the South West. soultoucher makes a good point that ALL our transport links need to be brought up to standard – then if one system fails there would be others to fall back on. If the Government is serious about improving the economy in the South West, the local transport infrastructure must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

    By TrubblnStrife at 12:01 on 17/01/13

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  • Profile image for hstmtu4000

    Just for interest if your using the trains from Plymouth to Exeter and beyond ie Paddington/the Midlands and the North,engineering works will means that the line between Plymouth and Newton Abbot is closed every Sunday from the 17th February to March 24th.Passengers travelling from Plymouth to destinations beyond Exeter will be "bussed" from Plymouth up the A38/M5 to Tiverton Parkway station to resume their journey by train from there.
    Also over the Easter period the £800million rebuilding/expansion of Reading station reaches a crucial phase and is closed for major engineering work to take place so trains to London Paddington will be diverted after the normal route beyond Westbury via the Salisbury/Andover/Basingstoke route into London Waterloo station with resultant extended journey times.
    So please check your journey plans if your travelling during on these dates.

    By hstmtu4000 at 00:53 on 16/01/13

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  • Profile image for jennyplym

    Its time our MP's got off their backsides and sorted out our Infrastructure once and for all. For 50yrs we have had less spent on us than the rest of the Country, huge amounts of money have been spent everywhere else except the far South West. In the 1970's we were told the M5 would come to Plymouth never happened, so Firstly I'd like ALL of our MP's to now go to the Government and insist we have a level playing field, and that the 50yrs of unsder investment be corrected NOW That would pay for the A38 to be upgraded to Motorway status so the M5 can come all the way to Marsh Mills. Plymouth is the 15th Largest City in the UK, think of the Jobs this would create, also adding a lane either side of the A38 is quite simple to do. Secondly the Rail line needs moving in land from Dawlish, until that is done ALL Rail Fares in the Region should be half price, thirdly there would be more than enough money left over to re-open the Airport, will this Happen not on your Nelly, our MP's sadly are far too self serving, just look at the MP's in the North East/West South East they get everything, Government Money to make the last stretch of the London to Brighton Dual Carriageway into Motorway, Dual Carriageway from Bexhill on Sea to Hasting again Government money is being used, but whenever we ask we get told sorry the Country is Bankrupt and broke Poppycock. I think its time we here pionered a new scheme Performance Related Pay for MP's. Ours here would end up with a Salary less than the National Average, their pay would drop from £66.600pa down to £26.000pa and their Expenses would drop from currently £100.000 down to less than £30.000 maybe then they would ALL resign for Poor Performance, and we would get some MP's willing to work hard and secure the Infrastructure we need, and correct the huge imbalance from the past. Dont hold your breath though. UKIP have said they would do all the above and more, using the huge amounts sent to the EU £55Million a day, and would also utilise the miles of unused land in the Dockyard for Commercial Shipping making Plymouth the new Felixstow bringing Thousands of Jobs and Wealth again to the City. Plymouth's and the United Kingdoms Economy would really take off again, the Great would be put back into Britain. I shall no longer vote Tory or Labour but UKIP the only Party who seem nowadays to care about this Country.

    By jennyplym at 13:34 on 15/01/13

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  • Profile image for soultoucher

    @foldart
    fantacists'? (sic) There's surely something wrong when the possible reinstatement of the airport is a fantasy.
    All our transport links should be addressed and sorted out. Why can our local MPs' only fight for one thing?
    Why can we not have a dual carriageway that can deal with the volume of traffic, a rail network that has fair prices and can cope in heavy rain whilst running on time and an air link for those who choose it?
    There's something wrong with our Mp's doing only the minimum needed for our city, they're afraid to fight for it and take little or no notice of what the people want, hence the incinerator.
    Give us something we want and need!
    Operable transport links to the rest of the country, why is it so hard?

    By soultoucher at 13:10 on 15/01/13

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  • Profile image for pogle63a

    Trains are so bad and so expensive these days that I just won`t use them. Ridiculous ticketing arrangements - people packed in like cattle and notoriously unreliable. I think it should be against the law to charge people who have paid to go by train from one place to another, who then end up doing so on a bus. It happens so often here in the Southwest when it shouldn`t we only really need one Decent pair of lines and the region would thrive, instead we are just left putting up with sub standard treatment.

    By pogle63a at 09:49 on 15/01/13

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