05 November 2009

Better Transport Links Needed

"PLYMOUTH has fewer three-hour train services to London than it did in the 1970s”

PlymTransit on Twitter
PLYMOUTH has fewer three-hour train services to London than it did in the 1970s, the city’s Cabinet member for transport says. Cllr Kevin Wigens called for more investment in rail, saying the lack of fast trains to London was a “significant handicap” for Plymouth’s economy. “Three-hour and sub-three-hour train journeys are vital for attracting inward investment. I’m dismayed when I think back to the 1970s, when three hours was the norm for many services. Mr Wigens blamed the Department for Transport, which he said set the core services that companies like First Great Western must provide.

“Plymouth City Council has been pressing the Department for Transport to increase the number of three-hour services.” Mr Wigens said journey times were increased when extra stops were added to a service.

Plymouth businessman Charles Howeson called for money to be diverted from roads to the railway. Mr Howeson, the chairman of the First Great Western Trains Advisory Board and also chairman of the Plymouth Area Business Council, said he fully supported the council’s call for more investment. “We’d love to see electrification,” he said. “Track speeds have not improved for many years because they are generally at the theoretical maximum without big investment in work like altering curves and signals. “Our railway was built in the Victorian era.” Stephen Kearney, chairman of the South West Devon Liberal Democrats, said: “We have to go down the route of electrification.

Devonport MP Alison Seabeck, who chaired the South West Select Committee, said witnesses had emphasised the vital importance of the A303, the second strategic road link. “In the short to medium term the far South West isn’t going to benefit from big capital outlays on rail so airports will continue to have a big role. Plymouth is the only small regional airport to have increased passenger numbers this year.”

Trains should be more reliable rather than faster, Roger Creagh-Osborne, local Green Party politician and a member of the Saltash Rail Users Group, said. “I don’t believe the lack of three-hour services is a limiting factor,” Mr Creagh-Osborne said. “I don’t think the extra 15 or 30 minutes makes an awful lot of difference to someone’s decision to use the train.

CALLS have been made for a “nationally significant” rail link connecting Plymouth to other major UK cities which is seen as vital to it becoming a regional economic powerhouse. The low priority given to train routes in the South West was holding Plymouth back from achieving its “full potential” MPs have been told. While progress had been made in recent years with journey times between Plymouth and London being cut to three hours, the city council has stressed the need for continuing service improvements to overcome the perception of the area’s remoteness.

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into transport in the region, the local authority pointed out the coastal rail link at Dawlish had been damaged on a number of occasions by the weather, cutting the mainline to Plymouth and Cornwall. Meanwhile, a passenger group submitted to the Commons South West Select Committee a wish-list of improvements it wanted to see to train services in the area, including using the Teign Valley line as an alternative when the mainline to Plymouth was closed by storms.

The RDA pointed to official Treasury figures that showed in 2007/08 the South West received £258 of total public sector transport spending for each resident, compared to an England average of £323, £667 for London and £552 for Scotland.

Read the full This is Plymouth article HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have something interesting to say? Please share it here!

(Moderation is currently switched on so please allow a short while before your comment appears on the site. This is only to cut down on spam - not to cut out people who disagree with me!)