Railways: South West

Department for Transport written question – answered on 12th June 2015.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions his Department has had with Network Rail and First Great Western on improving the rail service to Torbay and the South West.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Since December 2013, services on the 20 minute journey from Newton Abbot to Paignton have operated approximately every half an hour, an improvement on the previous hourly service with an additional 12 trains per day. The additional service was promoted by Torbay and Devon County Council and part funded by an EU grant.

There are long standing aspirations to maintain and expand this service supported by recommendations in Network Rail’s Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS). The Department’s Rail Executive is in ongoing discussions with First Great Western and Network Rail about the continuation and expansion of this service and responses to our 2014 Great Western consultation showed strong support for this.

In addition, Network Rail continues to focus on the ongoing work as to whether a new or reopened inland route should be constructed to provide a more resilient railway for the South West, in addition to what works are ongoing to improve Dawlish itself.

Options for maintaining a resilient rail service to the Southwest Peninsula were presented by Network Rail to the Secretary of State in July 2014. The options will influence the next industry plan in 2016 and inform the Government’s rail investment strategy for 2019-2024.

Network Rail is progressing work on the existing rail route via Dawlish to ensure that future route failure is avoided.

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