The Government has announced today (officially that is) a series of major improvements to Cornwall’s rail network. This new funding totals £146.6m and the package includes £9m of funding from the Department for Transport (DfT), £29.6m secured through Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), £103.5m from Network Rail and £4.5m from train operator First Great Western.
Considering more than 6.5m passengers use the rail network in Cornwall every year, this is excellent news for Cornwall’s rail network. This investment will see a major programme of signalling improvements starting five years earlier than planned, providing faster journeys between Penzance and Totnes. More importantly, these improvements will pave the way for the potential introduction of half-hourly services on the Cornish mainline. It is the half-hourly service on the mainline which have the most positive impact on an integrated transport system.
The deal will also include the interior of the Night Riviera Sleeper trains will be completely overhauled. This service is one of only two sleeper services in the UK and runs between Penzance and London. Further to this, the Long Rock train maintenance site at Penzance will be expanded to maintain Cornwall’s sleeper trains. This will safeguard jobs and will create new training opportunities. So this is good news for Penzance.
Credit must go to all who worked towards this deal. It has been a long and complex process and I am glad in amongst all the cuts, there is still some good news to be had. Well done, well done indeed.