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, 11 December 2014


I have never been a train spotter, although I do understand those who marvel at the majesty of this awesome piece of engineering, especially steam driven trains. But I have been spending a lot of time focussing on trains lately.

As I have said many times, improving the rail connectivity of our region to the rest of the United Kingdom is the most important challenge facing us, with upgrading our broadband connectivity a very close second. We live and work in a fabulous area, but we desperately need modern communications to ensure we deliver the economy and the jobs that our young people need.

Since the Dawlish line was swept away in February, the Department of Transport and Network Rail have been consulting on how to tackle this resilience problem. For many months, there were as many different views about the solution as there were possible routes. Thankfully, in October, after some cajoling, the local authorities from Devon and Cornwall and our Local Enterprise Partnerships which have the responsibility to underpin economic growth in our region, have all started to sing from the same hymn sheet.

They met together under the title of Peninsula Rail Task Force. A 3-point plan was published in early November to set forward the requirements of the region for a first class rail service for the future, albeit recognising that it would take years to achieve all this even if we started tomorrow.

In the autumn statement government partially responded to this plan, which was good news, but it did not go far enough. In particular, it put resources behind the possible re-opening of the Okehampton line, but said little about improving resilience between Plymouth to Exeter, known as the Dawlish Avoiding Line.

Last Thursday, I led a delegation to Downing Street to discuss this 3 point plan in detail. We made it clear to the PM that we need the government to embrace this plan in its entirety, not just cherry pick part of it. He understood this and undertook to instruct the Department for Transport to meet with the Task Force to thrash out the plan in more detail, broken down into bite-size chunks, whilst recognising that it will take many years, perhaps twenty, to achieve it in full. It is vital to have a clear plan and work towards it.

A meeting to start this work has already been arranged for early January. Once again we travel in hope.

posted by Gary @ 14:09