I welcome the Government’s announcement of a rail investment programme of a scale not seen since the Victorian age.
The programme contains more than £9 billion of growth-boosting railway upgrades across England and Wales, upgrades that will increase capacity and ensure faster journey times.
Rail passengers in Cornwall will see the benefits of these changes. The electrification of the Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol will mean that rail journeys from Cornwall to London will be faster. Addtional funding has been set aside to support journey time reducing measures between Taunton and Bristol, cutting journeys times yet further.
Other improvements in different parts of England will free up rolling stock, which then will be deployed on a range of lines, these may include lines in Cornwall.
The programme also details an aspiration to develop a new rail link from Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Airport. Such a link would make a real difference to the thousands of Cornish residents who travel by train to Heathrow every year to start their holidays.
Taken as a whole these improvements will speed up rail journeys to and from Cornwall, open up the possibility of more carriages being deployed on Cornish lines and in due course secure closer links to Heathrow.
The Great Western Rail Franchise is still out for tender, and key decisions regarding the number of trains to run between Penzance and Paddington have not yet been taken. I continue to make representations on this matter and to press the case for sufficient capacity on the line; I am pleased to have already received assurances that the sleeper service will be retained.
With the Government taking the steps necessary to build a fast moving, passenger focused, rail network fit for the twenty first century I will continue to work with Ministers, consumer groups and local passengers to ensure that my constituents feel the benefit of these improvements and have the rail services they need.