Scott is campaigning for better and faster railway links in and around North Cornwall to boost tourism and business.
The collapse of the sea wall at Dawlish in 2014 illustrated the vulnerability of the rail network in the South West. It cost the economy tens of millions of pounds and caused a lot of disruption to passengers.
Scott and fellow South West MPs are campaigning hard to safeguard the region's railways which are vital for all constituencies in Devon and Cornwall.
Improvements in the South West
The Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) – which is comprised of councils and LEPs in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset - is working alongside South West MPs to lobby the Government for big investment that will improve our railways.
In early 2017, the PRTF published its ‘Closing the Gap’ report which lays out a 20-year plan for desired improvements, with immediate, medium and long term aspirations. These include:
- Invest £284 million in resilience at Dawlish and Teignmouth.
- Introduce trains capable of operating in all weathers.
- Invest £22 million journey time reductions.
- Two direct trains an hour from Plymouth to London which would also cut journey times by 10 minutes.
- Return of dedicated mainline services between Exeter and Okehampton.
- Invest £25 million to make journeys more productive through better Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity.
Medium term priorities to 2029
- Invest £301 million to complete Dawlish sea wall and cliffs resilience, a diversionary route between Exeter and Castle Cary and estuary flood protection.
- Invest £1.5 billion to reduce journey times by up to 14 minutes between Penzance and London Paddington through line improvement and partial-electrification.
- Invest £150 million to reduce journey times and increase capacity between Exeter and London Waterloo.
- Invest £358 million in new rolling stock and a phased re-opening of a northern line between Plymouth and Exeter via Okehampton.
The report was presented to MPs in Parliament and has been sent to ministers and officials at the Department for Transport.
The Government says the priority is to safeguard the line at Dawlish, and Network Rail has already unveiled plans of how to do that, with the Government already committing £10 million on preliminary work.
The ‘Closing the Gap’ report can be found on the PRTF’s website here: https://peninsularailtaskforce.co.uk/
Railways in North Cornwall
Scott is currently supporting the following projects which have been proposed or have potential to become a reality:
- Extension of line from Boscarne Junction to Wadebridge
The Bodmin and Wenford Railway Trust is looking to reinstate the line which once ran to Wadebridge alongside the River Camel. Although now a cycle trail, the proposal would see the return of steam trains between Bodmin and Wadebridge with a trail running parallel for cyclists, walkers, and horse riders. The Camel Trail is a vital part of both North Cornwall's recreational and tourism industries. Scott wants to see trains returning to Wadebridge, but not at the expense of bikers, walkers or horse riders. This line could be hugely beneficial for Wadebridge in terms of transport links for locals as well as extra visitor footfall.
'MP Scott Mann backs plans for steam trains on Camel Trail' (Cornish Guardian)
- Mainline services to Bodmin General
Bodmin is currently served by Bodmin Parkway for mainline rail services, but the station is located outside of the town on the A38 which is prone to closure because of road works or accidents. Bodmin Parkway is also located just across the constituency border in South-east Cornwall. The return of a mainline service to Bodmin General would provide a year-round link to Bodmin Parkway which is only a short walk from the town centre. Although tickets are now available to Bodmin General from mainline stations, mainline services themselves are not. Being a preserved steam railway, there are little services in the winter, but a mainline service would avoid this and form part of a consistent rail link for Bodmin residents and visitors.
'Scott Mann visits Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway' (B&WR website)
- Reinstatement of mainline services between Exeter and Okehampton
Scott wants to see the return of daily mainline services between Okehampton and North Cornwall. Although some services do run in the summer, Scott wants to see a dedicated timetable so that visitors have better rail access to North Cornwall via North Devon. The PRTF have also backed this in their ‘Closing the Gap’ report, saying it could be done by 2019. In March 2017, the OkeRail organisation chartered a direct train from Okehampton to London Paddington for the first time in over 50 years. Scott was at Okehampton to meet with passengers and wave the train off to London. It was then met in the capital by the Rail Minister.
Facts & Figures
According to a 2017 report published by the Office of Rail & Road:
- £9.7bn of rail funding came from passenger fares, an increase of 1.1% from 2015-16.
- £3.4bn came from government funding (net).
- Franchised train companies’ expenditure increased by 1.7% to £12.6bn.
- Network Rail’s expenditure increased by 6.5% to £7.6bn.
Over five years:
- Income from fares has increased by 18.2%.
- Train companies expenditure has increased by 20.2%.
- Network Rail’s expenditure has increased by 20.0%.
- Passenger journeys have increased by 18.4%.