Today the Government finally published its reply to Peninsular Rail Task Force report – 16 months after receiving report. The long-awaited SW Rail Strategy announces no new money and pushes back expected spending into 2019-2024 rail funding period. The Government fails to match Labour’s £2.5bn rail funding pledge.
Commenting Luke Pollard MP said:
“This long-awaited rail strategy is not worth the paper it is written on. It provides the south west with no new money, no certainty of future funding and is full of weasel words and promises of jam tomorrow. We have heard this all before. It simply is not good enough.”
“We have waited 16 months since the cross-party supported Peninsular Rail Task Force report went into Government. In that time Labour announced our support for the plans and committed to fund all the report’s immediate asks with 2.5bn of funding. The Government failed to stump up £600,000 for a three minute speed enhancement on the line between Plymouth and Totnes before Christmas and now they publish a so called strategy that gives no direction, no new funding, no clear vision. They must think we were born yesterday.”
“As a region it is time we stood up loudly and said this is not good enough and we demand proper funding. I fear South West Conservative MPs will fall for this sham of a strategy hook, line and sinker. Today we learnt that that local Conservative MPs have failed to win the funding we need. Their passive and pedestrian approach to getting us the railway we so desperately need needs to come to an end – we need a more assertive campaign, cross-party and determined to face down Ministers. While other regions get billions in funding for new train lines, new tube lines and high speed rail, yet again, the south west barely gets the crumbs. I am genuinely angry about this betrayal and it is time our region’s Conservative MPs found their voice to call out this sham strategy.”