Working hard for you
Alison Seabeck almost missed the launch of the campaign for better rail links to the South West today, because there was no through train available to get her into Plymouth on time for the launch which took place at 10:30am this morning.
Alison Seabeck MP said:
“Alison said this illustrates perfectly why we need better connectivity between Plymouth and London. It is ridiculous that I am unable to travel to Plymouth in time for a meeting starting at 10:30am. Businesses have told me time and time again that if we want to attract business to Plymouth that we need a regular and reliable train service, which will allow businesses to travel to the capital and back in a day”.
“I have been leading the campaign supported by my fellow MPs and Plymouth City Council and local businesses to make the case for Plymouth with Ministers in London. The current consultation on the new 15-year franchise gives us a unique opportunity to ensure that we get the improvements we need to the rail service, after all it is estimated that these improvements will bring an estimated £94 million a year to the local economy”.
A rail task force has been set up and is calling for businesses and individuals to get across the message that rail is vital to the city and the region’s growth. The task force will be telling ministers that for an annual extra investment of £10 million into rail links between the city and London, the returns would be almost ten times the value.
Leading rail industry consultants Steer Davis Gleave were jointly commissioned by the Chamber and the Council to look into the economic case for better rail connectivity and found that for an additional operating cost of £10 million a year, the economy stands to gain £94 million.
As well as aiming for faster trains, a key demand is for better on-board facilities such as WIFI and continuous mobile coverage to enable the business community to work en-route.
A timetable of improvements for Plymouth has been put together which sets out achievable improvements to existing rail services to and from Plymouth and the wider local network that could be made during the next franchise period.
It also details longer term ambitions such as feasibility studies and ground work ahead of a commitment to extend electrification of services to Plymouth.
The task force includes MPs Alison Seabeck, Sheryll Murray, Gary Streeter, Oliver Colvile, Councillor Kevin Wigens, Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Shadow Member for Transport Mark Coaker, Andrew Seedhouse representing Plymouth University, Tim Jones representing the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership, Doug Fletcher from the Plymouth Growth Board.
Plymouth’s timetable of improvements:
From May 2012
• An earlier morning arrival in Plymouth on a direct service from London by rescheduling an existing service.
From December 2013
• An extra train providing a 3-hour journey from London arriving at 10.00am and a return 3-hour journey departing Plymouth for London at 4.00pm
• Hourly departures from Plymouth and London throughout the day with maximum journey time of 3hours 15 minutes
• Hourly local mainline services stopping at intermediate stations between Penzance and Exeter to relieve over-crowding during the peaks and over the summer months
• A refurbishment programme to reconfigure passenger accommodation to better suit business needs including WIFI and continuous mobile coverage.
• 2 departures from London and Plymouth during the morning peak are speeded up to take no more than 3 hours
• 4 departures from London and Plymouth during the afternoon peak are speeded up to take no more than 3 hours. These services are in addition to existing services which make the journey in 3 hours and require additional trains to maintain service levels at stations between Exeter and London no longer served by fast services to and from Plymouth.
• Upgrade local mainline services replacing existing Class 150 rolling stock with “Networker Turbo” Class 165 Diesel Multiple Units.
o Complete feasibility and groundwork with a commitment to extend electrification of railway to Plymouth
o As above but replacement of the existing High Speed Trains with electric trains capable of achieving journey times between Plymouth and London within 2 hours 45 minutes.