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'Restore rail link' plea after storm leaves Cornwall cut off from network

By DaveCDM  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

Comments (3)

THE Government is being urged to take immediate action to repair storm damaged rail lines after the overnight storm left Cornwall cut off from the national rail network.

Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard said the contuinuing run of stormy weather is badly damaging the county's economy.

He said: “We cannot afford any interruption to this vital rail link and the Government needs to act to ensure that repairs are carried out immediately.

"Our road and air links continue to work well and Cornwall remains open for business, however the rail link is crucial to our economy and we need Government support now.

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"We are similarly concerned that the vital link to the Isles of Scilly is maintained by sea and air.“

“As a result of the recent storms some communities across Cornwall have suffered significant structural damage which will cost millions of pounds to repair.

"Council staff are doing a superb job offering practical support and protecting people and the infrastructure but the growing list of damage means that we need the assurance that the Government will help.

"Cornwall Council and its partners are doing everything possible and the co ordinated approach across the region in a example of what can be achieved.

"However, now we need money and action from National bodies to ensure that peoples lives can return to normal as soon as possible."

At Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons this lunchtime Cornwall MP Andrew George raised the issue of rail links with David Cameron.

Mr George told the PM that residents in Cornwall were concerned about being cut off and asked if the government would invest to make sure the rail link to Penzance stays open.

Mr Cameron responded saying that he would look at the issue.

Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton also backed the calls for investment to be made in the railway.

She said: "Cornwall’s rail connectivity needs urgently to be improved. Whilst progress has been made over the past year mainline trains are still too few in number at the best of times, and cease entirely when severe weather cuts the line.

"In PMQs today it was good to see the Prime Minister commit to urgent action to restore the Penzance to Paddington line."

Mebyon Kernow also joined the calls for more investment to improve the railway line into Cornwall.

MK deputy leader and Cornwall councillor Andrew Long said: "This most recent damage has, unfortunately, been coming for years, given the precarious nature of the rail line at Dawlish and Dawlish Warren. Whilst everyone is thankful that no loss of life has occurred, we are frustrated that despite the last few years of closures due to the weather along this line.

“We are still waiting for action to be commenced on a long term solution to this problem – which is the re-direction of this line inland. Why is it that the government are happy to spend billions on marginal increase in speeds between London and Birmingham, they seem to have a blind eye when looking at this vital link to Cornwall?

“Network Rail are hinting that this most recent closure could last into months, and if so this would have a devastating effect on the Cornish Economy.

“Now is the time for the Government to take firm action and agree that a new route is the only real solution to this problem. Changes in the weather patterns hint that we will face more and more of these storms in the coming decades and we need now to start the process to solve the long term problem and bring the rail line up to standard."

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  • Gwiwer57  |  February 06 2014, 5:13AM

    The route through Okehampton and Tavistock fails to serve the largest communities in Devon affected by the Dawlish closure namely Torquay, Paignton and Newton Abbot. Those places need to remain rail-linked towards both London and Plymouth. As a diversionary route there may be merit in restoring it but would we then keep both routes open? The journey times would also blow out by at least 30 minutes and possibly an hour for Cornwall - London travel. Remember the line also floods at Cowley Bridge north of Exeter so even if the "Southern" route was restored it would still suffer from flood-related closures there. Tavistock - Plymouth should support a regular daily service; Okehampton - Exeter likewise. The bit through the middle was never busy and there are no suggestions to reopen stations making it of no use for locals outside those major towns. The coastal main line will be restored and as speedily as possible. It will always suffer from being on the sea wall but it is also the rail lifeline for south Devon and to Cornwall which the Tavistock route is unlikely to ever rival.

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  • Dale_Minks  |  February 05 2014, 8:42PM

    Couldn't agree more with previous comment. The daily telegraph is reporting that in 2009 it was estimated that the cost of reinstatement of the missing piece of Exeter Plymouth via Okehampton route (Meldon to Bere Alston) would be £100m. A lot of money? Not when you think a major new hospital can cost £300m and the new bridge over the river Mersey will cost £400m. What's stopping the government except inertia and lack of public pressure to get it done, and done ASAP?

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  • josdave  |  February 05 2014, 6:58PM

    They should have re-opened the Tavistock line across the moors when they had the chance. Now we are completely dependent on the line though Dawlish. Planners? They don'y know the meaning of the word.