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Plymouth City Council leader blasts £80M Dawlish rail plans

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Last week’s Department for Transport announcement of £80M in funding for rail resilience work at Dawlish in Devon has been labelled as too little and too late by Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans.

“Chris Grayling’s announcement, or rather re-announcement, is a bit like when you have waited for a long delayed train – when it finally turns up you feel relieved but also pretty furious at the inconvenience it has caused,” said Evans.

“This announcement is not only years too late, it only takes us part of the way. It is literally a drop in the ocean – it raises the sea wall at Dawlish but doesn’t solve the resilience problem as there’s £250M still needed for works between Dawlish and Teignmouth, including stabilisation of the cliffs.

“There’s nothing about the request I made to the rail minister to use the high speed trains coming out of service on other networks on the Cross Country route so they can run reliable trains through Dawlish without having to stop every time there’s a risk of water coming over the line. Passengers have been suffering huge disruption on that route and this is something that would make a real difference and can be done relatively quickly and easily.

“This announcement also does nothing to help towards the ambition of having faster rail journeys to the South West peninsula and the travel times enjoyed in other parts of the country.

“There is no real investment in new trains for the peninsula. They are re-announcing new trains that are not even funded by the taxpayer but what they aren’t telling us is that the Government has provided 7,000 new rail carriages for every other rail network in the country. This is yet more evidence of Devon and Cornwall not getting our fair share of investment in rail infrastructure.

“There’s also nothing here to improve desperately needed road links to Plymouth. Funding for the A30 and A303 is needed and that’s all very good but we need positive action on desperately needed improvements to the A38.

“With this announcement the Government is once again trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. What it really shows is that we are still as far away from being at the top of the transport priorities list as we ever have been.”

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