Worcester MP, Robin Walker, and Mid-Worcestershire MP, Peter Luff, give evidence for Cotswold line improvements, using Chamber testimonies as evidence.
Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, secured and led an adjournment debate in the Chamber last Friday 17th
October to discuss the North Cotswold train line as part of his continual campaign for faster services between Worcester and London. Robin called for a two hour service between Worcester and the capital to support the local economy and make sure Worcestershire’s World Class economy also gets a world class train service.
MPs from Herefordshire and Worcestershire have banded together to make the case for an improved service between London, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Together with Robin, Sir Peter Luff, Harriett Baldwin and Bill Wiggin all signed a joint letter calling for 'a faster and more frequent train service'. Sir Peter Luff and Harriett Baldwin were both in the Chamber to support the debate. The Prime Minister himself has personally supported their campaign and written to the Chancellor to support further redoubling.
Together with his parliamentary colleagues from neighbouring constituents, Robin has called for Network Rail and First Great Western to look at signalling, rolling stock and dualling of the entire line to enable two hour journey times between Worcester and London. He has also called for more frequent services so that the line could support both fast and stopping services.
First Great Western Managers have met with Robin frequently to outline the improvements to the line and have confirmed plans to improve the timetable in 2015 as well as opportunities to secure new rolling stock in 2018. The average journey time still rests at just over 135 minutes between Worcester Foregate Street and London Paddington and Robin made clear that this is not acceptable.
The MP for Worcester cited Mike Ashton, Chief Executive of the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, and Jim Mcbride, Chief Executive of Lesk Engineers and Regional Director at Henley Business Group.
Mr. Ashton, said: "Time and time again local businesses tell us that the rail connectivity from Worcester is simply not good enough. Journey times that are longer now than they were at the start of the 20th century is just not acceptable. Especially considering the demands of modern businesses, to whom quick and easy travel is essential."
In response, Claire Perry, Parliamentary Under Secretary in the DfT, said: "My hon. Friend the Member for Worcester has set out with great clarity the importance of the Great Western rail network to his constituency. Let me address his concerns head on. First Great Western, Network Rail and my Department completely recognise the case for a sub two-hour service between London and the points that he makes in relation to his constituency.”
“Work is ongoing to look at additional track redoubling on these routes that, along with the planned introduction of new rolling stock, could deliver the additional speeds he and many other hon. Members seek on behalf of their constituents. We need to assess possible route options and the money required to deliver this and balance that against competing priorities on the route. I am fully aware of the strong local feelings and the strong local case being made about the importance of this work, and I will be seeking to complete this work as soon as possible."