Business leaders in rail plea
1:00pm Tuesday 2nd October 2012 in News
Falmouth’s business leaders have called on the government to protect the “vital” rail service between London and Cornwall.
The move comes after FirstGroup, who currently operate services on the Paddington to Penzance line, decided to cut short their franchise this year and force a new round of bids for the route’s operation.
Four bidders have now come forward with offers for the franchise and whoever wins the contract is expected to take over operations from next summer until 2028.
As this could be the last time for 15 years that a new contract is negotiated for the operation of Cornwall’s railways, members of the Falmouth Business Improvement District (BID) have written to the new transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, urging him to ensure that the number of trains on the route is maintained and that journey times are speeded up.
In the letter, BID manager Richard Wilcox said a “reliable frequent and speedy rail service” is “vital to the continuing success of our tourism, maritime, higher education, environmental and creative industry sectors.”
He added: “Faster trains, with fewer station stops at certain times of the day or week would open up business opportunities for the region, ensuring synergy with the positive developments that are taking place in the |county.”
The letter is designed to highlight the fact that Cornwall’s rail links are “quite simply a lifeline” connecting the county to the rest of the UK, Mr Wilcox said, and he hopes that the BID’s actions will now “galvanise others” to write to Mr McLoughlin “to ensure that Cornwall is positioned to potential visitors and investors as an attractive proposition by rail.”