Plymouth MP vows to keep up pressure over rail links
A PLYMOUTH MP has vowed to keep pressure on the Government to improve rail services to the city.
Alison Seabeck made the stand after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin admitted it is "unacceptable" the city was cut off during the December floods.
The minister has asked Network Rail to brief MPs and meetings are expected early next month.
Ms Seabeck said: "He hasn't actually said what he's going to do.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"This is a good start but we'll be keeping the pressure on.
"I believe the Environment Agency are also weighing in on this because they've got some work to do.
"I'm looking forward to this meeting. There are lots of rumours flying around, but it's important they become fact."
Heavy rain battered the region last year, with the London-to-Penzance main line at Cowley Bridge, near Exeter, failing three times – leaving the region marooned by rail.
The resilience of the rail network is now seen as even more important following the loss of Plymouth's air link, and the region having just one fully dualled road into the far South West despite long-standing calls for improvements.
During Transport Questions in the House of Commons, the minister was pressed by Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, over Devon and Cornwall effectively being cut off cut off from the rest of the country by rail for periods lasting more than a week.
"That is not acceptable for rail travellers or our economy," the former Cabinet Secretary said.
In response, Mr McLoughlin said: "The situation that people in the South West faced over that period was unacceptable.
"It was the result of weather that we do not see often.
"I have asked Network Rail to give a briefing to members from those areas."
The meetings are expected to take place in February.
He was also questioned by Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay.
"There are two other important areas within the South West that raise potential problems for the resilience of rail services," Mr Sanders said.
"One is the rail line between Exeter and Honiton, which also floods, but most crucially there is the coastal route between Exeter and Newton Abbot, which for decades has required a great deal of maintenance."
Mr McLoughlin said ministers are "aware of the problems", adding he hoped the meetings would help "come to some solutions".
Network Rail's 2014 to 2019 plan for the Western Route – a vast swathe of the country covering London to Oxford and Worcester and down to Bristol, Exeter and Penzance – offered little hope of immediate improvements to vulnerable stretches of line.
But since the repeated flooding it has been ordered to review 40 vulnerable sites on the route.
David Cameron last week pledged the Government will do "everything we can" to safeguard the Westcountry's vital rail link.
It comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted the coalition could "do more" to prevent a repeat of the region being cut off.
Comment – Page 11