The Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening today announced £16bn of public support for rail covering the period from 2014 to 2019, describing the government’s vision for a railway which is more financially and environmentally sustainable, which supports economic growth and which delivers for its passengers and freight customers.
The West will benefit from:
- taking electric rail beyond Cardiff to Swansea, completing the full electrification of the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington at a total cost of more than £600 million, and electrifying the Welsh Valley lines, including Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and the Vale of Glamorgan
- a new £500 million rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow
- expanding the capacity of the railway to and from Bristol and increasing station capacity at Bristol Temple Meads
Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West welcomed the investment, particularly the electrification of the Great Western Mainline. He said: “This is great news for the South West which is the fastest growing part of England. (Source: ONS)
“Our recent survey (Barriers to Growth, Q2 2012) of businesses across the West of England area, found that Traffic Congestion was the most significant disadvantage for businesses located in the sub-region.
“The same survey found that 'Proximity to good transport links', and 'Access to markets, neighbouring cities' are amongst the most popular benefits for businesses located in the West of England.
“Business supports the Government’s strategy to provide long-term strategic investment to improve transport infrastructure, rather than simply looking at short-term fixes. We will continue to push for a modern and efficient rail system that supports growth and improves competitiveness.”
James Durie, Director of Bristol Chamber of Commerce said he was particularly pleased with the latest investment news as figures from the Treasury show that expenditure per head on transport in the South West is below that of all other English regions.
He said: “Rail is one element of our transport infrastructure that our members constantly tell us that they want improved. It is fantastic news that the Secretary of State wishes the industry to undertake work to expand the capacity of the railway serving passengers to and from Bristol. Increasing route capacity into Bristol from Filton Abbey Wood and increasing station capacity at Bristol Temple Meads by bringing back into railway use the historic station building, will be a big boost for business in this region.”
Ian Larrard, Director of GWE The Initiative in Swindon & Wiltshire, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement to invest in the Heathrow spur link, as a crucial investment which will help give the region’s economy a global boost. Provision of this easier, faster route is essential for existing businesses and also for inward investment. Businesses west of Heathrow have been calling for this vital investment for many years. This said, it is important that continued growth and expansion of hub airports like Heathrow does not compromise the important role played by crucial regional airports like Bristol Airport.”