Railfuture welcomes plans to improve the Cornish main line and calls for much more investment in the rail network of South West England.

The announcement that the Probus-Burngullow section will be doubled is a welcome reversal of years of decline and cost cutting.

The 7.5 mile section was singled by British Rail in the 1980s in a cost-cutting measure and has been a cause of disruption to rail services in the county ever since.

The restrictions of single-line working have also been a major barrier for introducing “clock-face” regular interval timetables.

"This singling of the main line should never have been allowed to happen in the first place,’ said Stuart Walker of Railfuture Devon and Cornwall.

“It is good news that the Strategic Rail Authority, Cornwall County Council, Network Rail and the European Community have joined forces to put the line back.

“Once completed, rail passengers will no longer have to wait for up to 15 minutes for a train coming the other way. We call on all four of Cornwall's train operators now to work together to produce the integrated even-interval service that the county requires. If they fail to do this then the investment will have been wasted.

"While this is an important improvement, there is much more that needs to be done to bring the Cornish rail network up to world class standards.

“We need to see firm plans to replace the 27-year-old InterCity 125 trains currently linking the county to London.

“We need to see work carried out between Plymouth and Exeter to provide higher line speeds towards London than the present 60mph.

“We need to see more Sprinter trains in the county to cope with the increased demand that the branch lines faced in the summer, and we need rail services integrated with buses to provide a viable alternative to the car in Cornwall.”

Railfuture remains concerned that the funding for recently announced road improvement schemes far outweighs investment in the rail infrastructure.

Mr Walker said: "The Highways Agency is planning road improvement schemes in the county totalling around £190million, despite the increased traffic congestion in towns that this will create.

“By comparison the Probus to Burngullow scheme costs only £14million. The A30 trunk road has received millions of pounds of improvements since the 1970s while the railway has had to face maintenance 'holidays' and cut backs. It is time to address this imbalance and we call on the Government to transfer part of the Highways Agency's budget into rail.”

Further info: Gerard Duddridge, 67 Higher Exwick Hill, Exwick, Exeter EX4 2AW Tel: 01392 218654
Stuart Walker, 149 Polwithen Drive, Carbis Bay, St Ives, Cornwall TR27 2SW Tel: 01736 796456
Derek Buttivant, Dene Court, Trenance, Newquay, Cornwall TR8 4BZ Tel: 07770 841527
Email: <a href=mailto:railfuturesw@swalker79.fsnet.co.uk>Stuart Walker</a>