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, 26 February 2015


It is time for an update on the most pressing issue facing our region – connectivity, especially an improved rail link. I am pleased to say that the news is positive.

You might recall that before Christmas I took the Peninsula Rail Task Force – the group representing all councils and business community in Devon Cornwall and Somerset to see the Prime Minister. The task force had by then worked up a three point plan. The simple ask of the PM was: will you help us persuade the Department of Transport (DofT) and Network Rail to adopt this plan and deliver it over the next 5 to 20 years. The answer was a resounding yes.

Since then the task force have had 2 meetings with the DofT and more monthly meetings are planned. The idea is to work up the plan into bite-size chunks and put some timings on it. By the summer a detailed plan with approximate costings and timings should be in place. This will then give a clear signal to the business community, the travelling public and potential investors in our region that a world class train service is on the way. It also affords an opportunity for local government to bring forward any particular part of the plan if necessary.

The plan contains designs for a 2¼ hour train journey from Paddington to Plymouth. This will transform our prospects. It calls for the current line via Dawlish to be maintained. It recognises that future capacity demands will require four tracks in the future and because another two tracks could not be run along the sea coast, this will have to be built inland from Newton Abbot to Exeter. We will in effect get a Dawlish-avoiding-line at that stage. Points and signalling and rolling stock will be upgraded. There is likely to be the reconstruction of the Okehampton line – not to replace the existing line, but as part of the economic opening up of North Cornwall and North Devon.

All of this has been accepted by officials in principle and I believe we will see it all over time. Don't forget that whilst the government is spending £40 billion on HS2 over 20 years, it is spending more than that on non-HS2 infrastructure every 5 years from now on. We are only asking for our fair share of that spending.

It has taken a while, but it looks as though it will happen. At last.

posted by Gary @ 10:04