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TAKE ACTION NOW: We demand a better rail link for Cornwall

By DaveCDM  |  Posted: February 07, 2014

Comments (13)

AS Cornwall faces at least six weeks cut off from the national rail network, our Cornish newspapers are joining forces to demand the Government finally funds a service fit for the 21st Century.

A promise was made in Westminster yesterday to review alternative routes to the current line through Dawlish, which has been washed away in this week's storms.

However, we at the West Briton, The Cornishman and Cornish Guardian, along with our sister titles the Western Morning News and Plymouth Herald, want the polititians to go one step further, and to commit to creating a second line into the Duchy to provide resilience in extreme weather.

The project would cost a fraction of the planned spend on the HS2 project - the high speed link between London and the north - and is vital for the economy of the whole west country.

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There are many options that could be considered for re-routing, including reviving a 50-mile stretch from Exeter to Newton Abbot, which closed in 1958.

A heftier price-tag would come with bringing back a link from Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton on the edge of Dartmoor, but this would mean no rail services to Dawlish, Teignmouth, Torbay, Totnes or Ivybridge if the coastal line closed.

At Transport Questions in the House of Commons this morning, the Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin said he wanted the service restored “as quickly as possible”, but also pledged a “more rigorous review of some of the other alternatives that may be available”.

In 2006, Labour ministers ruled out the idea of re-routing, arguing Network Rail believed seafront defences in Dawlish were unlikely to fail “in the foreseeable future”.

Mr McLoughlin’s statement in the Commons followed an angry meeting with MPs in the region from all parties.

He said: “The immediate priority is to assess the damage and develop a plan for getting the line back into service as soon as possible.

“But I am acutely conscious of the need to develop a long-term solution to the resilience of the rail network in the South West. And I have asked for a report to me on the options for addressing this problem.”

MPs across Devon and Cornwall are calling for a meaningful response as the line at Dawlish hangs by a thread.

Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, said: “When billions are being spent on glitzy schemes like HS2 and Crossrail, it is not too much to ask that the Government puts resources into ensuring the long-term resilience of the line to Penzance, including the possibility of re-routing the line or providing a back up diversionary route.”

Mr McLoughlin will be hauled before MPs on the Transport Select Committee on February 25, revealed Adrian Sanders, Lib Dem MP for Torbay, who serves on the cross-party committee.

Answering questions over flooding in the Commons, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said there were “no restrictions” on help to fix the railway line and the Armed Forces were there “should local authorities require them”.

Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh said: “Freak weather is rapidly becoming the new normal in our country.

“But every week that this line is closed costs the regional economy tens of millions of pounds.”

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  • A30flyer  |  February 08 2014, 9:47PM

    I see that Bob Toronto has the most negative rating. Bob has set out the rational way to approach this problem. It is unfortunate that most people seem unable to understand that this methodology is the only way to reach an appropriate decision where billions of pounds of investment is being considered, whether from public or private sources.

  • nickthompson  |  February 07 2014, 7:13PM

    "We demand a better rail link for Cornwall"------------------------ WHY, to travel by rail one needs to take out a mortgage.

    |   -2
  • robzrob  |  February 07 2014, 6:47PM

    Get the politicians out of transport altogether, let the market decide.

    |   1
  • robzrob  |  February 07 2014, 6:36PM

    Get the politicians out of transport altogether, let the market decide.

    |   -2
  • break  |  February 07 2014, 4:27PM

    You know what they'll say"vote for us in the next election and we'll build a new rail link,and we'll build it with solid gold rails".And a politicians promise doesn't mean much today,once they've got us off their backs,tommorrow they'll say they haven't got the funding to do it.

    |   7
  • oggiedan  |  February 07 2014, 3:36PM

    Reconnect the old LSWR between Bere Alston and Meldon Quarry. The old trackbed and bridges are still there, and relay the section between Lydford and Launceston as a branch. Also dual the whole route from Plymouth to Exeter, and Exeter to Salisbury. Then when Network Rail closes the old GWR route for repairs ie the Honeyball tunnel closure in January and now at Dawlish, we tax paying voters in the Southwest can still access the national network. The Exeter Newton Abbott line was only engineered as a single track light railway and is mostly underneath the present A38 dual carriageway.

    |   4
  • deke77777  |  February 07 2014, 2:20PM

    Just get the coach, as I am doing to London in March for the Ideal Home exhibition. It is 70% cheaper!

    |   -2
  • josdave  |  February 07 2014, 1:30PM

    It's not just the Dawlish line there are many lines throughout the country that the Money they are wasting on HS2 would be better spent on. I was not talking of abandoning the Dawlish line but the line across the moors would still be a good idea. There is clearly the money there what is missing is the will. The big companies who stand to make a mint out of bHS2 must be looked after.

    |   5
  • BobToronto  |  February 07 2014, 12:53PM

    Can we have some numbers? How many passengers travel? Highest week in summer and lowest in Winter? How many tons of freight? Percentage of passengers making local trips? What is the number of layoffs while the tracks are being repaired? Should Heathrow and Gatwick landing rights be expanded, at least on a temporary basis? Based on the above numbers, is it possible that express buses on an improved A30 could carry the load. How many extra trucks could take the load? In Canada few people travel by train even in the highly populated Quebec City to Windsor 700 mile corridor. General freight is not economic by rail for under 300 miles. During the time the track is being repaired the alternative methods above will be proven adequate or not. If adequate, then the track beds could be converted to bus only limited access highways. High speed buses into town centres may be very economic. Bus fares are already less expensive than rail to London from Cornwall. Politicians and businessmen could turn this awful storm into an opportunity to provide better transportation for the southwest in future

    |   -10
  • Alehound  |  February 07 2014, 11:00AM

    I think a tiny fraction of the vast expenditure for London based H2S could be diverted for the repair and also the opening of an alternate route. Whether the Dawkish sea wall can be made impregnable to further weather I find doubtful, repair first then redirect. I agree views are stunning from the train and I love the journey but continual repairs must in the end be dearer than re-routing the line. Perhaps it could be made a foot / cycle path, would not be needed to maintain to such a high standard.

    |   9