Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 10 April 2014


When you read this, I should be in China, the country that looks set to dominate the world of our children and grandchildren. I will report on my visit next week. (It is not at tax payer's expense!)

To get to Heathrow last weekend I travelled up on the re-opened rail link. As we passed through Dawlish it was possible to see firsthand the massive feat of engineering that has reconnected us to London in just 8 weeks. Network rail have done a truly amazing job and it is not possible to praise them highly enough. 300 men working 24/7 for 8 weeks, initially in some very tasty weather have achieved a virtual miracle. It is a timely reminder that when we put our mind to it in this country (the Olympics comes to mind) we are capable of world class delivery.

The repair work has not just replaced the sea wall and infrastructure as it was, but strengthened it significantly to make it much more robust.

In July Network rail will report to the Transport secretary on how the rail link to the far south west can be made much more resilient.

This will look at upgrading the infrastructure from Bristol to Penzance and, crucially, considering how to provide an additional or alternative in-land route to avoid the potential vulnerability of the Dawlish section. 

There will doubtless be a healthy debate about where this line should go; indeed, regional MPs are already sparring over this. My own preference is for a fast straight track from Newton Abbott to Exeter which is either the main line or can be used as the main line in extremis. But let us see what the report says.

If there is to be a new line there will presumably be a huge planning battle and endless enquiries, appeals and claims for compensation, so it is naive to imagine that there will be a track on the ground any time soon. But we must see a commitment to it and a steady drive towards it.

To do that the government and Network Rail have to commit the necessary funds to construct it. Naturally, as we do not yet know where it will be or how much it will cost the funds for this do not appear in the current five year plan. So that will be the next big battle.

In the meantime, well done again Network Rail and your orange army.

posted by Gary @ 09:29