West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has welcomed the launch of a consultation into the Great Western Rail (GWR) franchise and believes it will encourage an even greater focus on improving rail services between West Cornwall and the rest of the country.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling launched the consultation earlier this week, saying he was seeking views on whether GWR should be retained as a single franchise in essentially its current form or whether it should be split it into smaller parts.
He is also looking for opinions on what the priority areas should be for future efforts to integrate ‘track’ and ‘train’ operations.
Mr Thomas said that major improvements in services and in the infrastructure of the South West rail network were already underway but that the consultation would identify how best GWR – or, potentially, other operators – could develop and build on these improvements.
“We are currently seeing a number of improvements as part of the biggest ever overhaul of the Great Western rail network which demonstrate that Penzance and West Cornwall remain an important part of the rail network,” he said.
“These include the imminent opening of the £7 million new train depot at Long Rock to act as the base for GWR’s sleeper train operations, the introduction of sleeper carriages for the Penzance-Paddington night service and the arrival next year of the new Hitachi Inter-City train, shortening journey times.
“In addition, the work to build the multi-modal hub at St Erth is well underway and fairly soon a two trains per hour Plymouth to Penzance service will be introduced.
“However there is much more to be done before we get a train service that will truly meet the demands of both the private and business traveller in the 21st century and I hope that rail users will feed into this consultation with their ideas on what could improve their train experience.
“Once a clear vision on how rail services should look in the future has been outlined, the Government will have a better idea on how to ensure that the franchisee can deliver those improvements.
“GWR has a good track record of working in partnership with local authorities and other promoters of local train service improvements and the Government will want the franchisee to maintain and expand this important role in the future.”
To take part in the consultation, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/662924/great-western-rail-franchise-consultation-web.pdf
The consultation closes on 21st February, 2018.