West Cornwall rail services could be spared cuts
9:24am Wednesday 1st August 2012 in News
TRAIN services between Penzance and Paddington could be saved at current levels after protests from local politicians.
Fears had been raised the number of daily services between Cornwall and London could be cut from nine to six when the new Great Western Rail franchise comes into effect next year.
Now rail minister Theresa Villiers has told bidders they must price up an option which would see services maintained at current levels.
Mrs Villiers said: “It is essential that we make the best use of railway infrastructure in Cornwall and across the Great Western franchise. The government knows how important it is to maintain good connectivity between Cornwall and London. “That is why the new franchise will require the operator to provide at least nine journey opportunities every day between Paddington and Penzance, in addition to the sleeper.
“We are considering whether three of these daytime services could be delivered with a connecting train.
“Following meetings with local MPs and Cornwall Council , I decided to add two priced options in the Great Western ITT one of which would allow for the retention of nine through services to Penzance and one of which would provide an enhanced regional service on the Cornish main line, if affordable solutions can be found.
“This keeps open the issue of how many through services will be provided in the new franchise.”
Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton welcomed the news, saying: “I am pleased that the minister has listened to the concerns expressed by my colleagues and I, and that as a result we are now making progress in ensuring that sufficient numbers of Penzance to Paddington trains are in operation from 2013.”
Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson also welcomed the news, saying: “This is definitely good news for Cornwall. “A number of Cornwall’s MPs raised this issue with the minister and we were able to build on this work by emphasising the impact a reduction in rail services would have on our economy. “We have ambitious plans for improving Cornwall’s rail services and the minister recognised how much has been achieved.”