Four years after the Dawlish line closure and the Government is still gambling with the South West economy

1st February, 2018
Four years after the Dawlish line closure and the Government is still gambling with the South West economy

Four years after storms destroyed the Dawlish rail line the South West is still waiting for a resilient rail line, that’s the message from the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF).

The combined events at Dawlish, the closure of Cowley Bridge and the flooding of the Somerset Levels devastated the peninsula, costing the South West economy an estimated £1.2 billion.

Councillor Geoff Brown, PRTF Chair said: “We have always been clear that Dawlish is our top priority and we expect resilient and reliable services that our travellers can depend on.

“Since Dawlish, the PRTF has prepared, funded and submitted a 20 Year Plan for investment into the rail network – ‘Closing the Gap’ but the peninsula is still waiting for a response from the Government.

“Network Rail has warned that there will be an increase in disruption and closures, rising by over 600 per cent to once in every four years by 2065 if nothing is done to the line. We can’t allow the Government to continue to gamble with our economy.”

“The Government has spent £35m on essential repairs reinstating the sea wall. Another £15m has been committed to the development work at Dawlish to date but these funds are not enough to take work beyond the option development stage,” Councillor Brown explained. “The PRTF outlined the need for £270m works to commence on the initial phase of the Dawlish seawall and Teignmouth cliff resilience scheme. The plan also urges completion of flood resilience works at Cowley Bridge, Somerset Levels and Hele & Bradninch.”

Councillor Brown added: “The lack of investment for connectivity and resilience is choking our economy in the South West. We’re fours years on from Dawlish and rail line is still extremely vulnerable. We’re all hoping that we don’t see storms like that again, but chances are we will and we need to be prepared for that.

“The South West needs to be funded in line with other regions across the UK. The Government has increased rail fares to fund improvements in infrastructure, but here in the South West we haven’t seen any improvements – where’s our value for money?

“The Government has our 20 Year Plan, which clearly outlines our priorities. Let’s see action.”