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Cotswold MP sees window of opportunity for rail redoubling

Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown yesterday called an adjournment debate on the subject of the redoubling of the section of single track railway running from Swindon to Kemble. The MP called for the debate after the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) announced on the 5th June that they would not provide funding for this scheme in the period 2009-2014, subject to a consultation period which closes on the 4th September 2008.

Speaking today, Tuesday 1st July 2008, Mr Clifton-Brown said "Whilst there is an open consultation with the ORR, to whom I am asking all affected constituents to write to, I was shocked by the decision not to include the redoubling of the Swindon to Kemble branch so I felt it was imperative I placed this extra pressure on the matter"

Mr Clifton-Brown has met regularly with Network Rail, who have requested the funding as they own and operate the rail infrastructure, as well as with senior ORR representatives with Stroud MP David Drew.

The debate was also attended by Mark Harper MP (Forest of Dean), Martin Horwood MP (Cheltenham), David Drew MP (Stroud) and Parmjit Dhanda MP (Gloucester) who all came to add their support to Mr Clifton-Brown's efforts and further emphasised the sheer number of Gloucestershire residents who are affected by the problems on this stretch of track.

During the debate the Cotswold MP highlighted how an improved section of track would offer diversionary routes for trains to a number of different regions, provide a reduced journey time, enable the repair of aged railway tracks and the work was essential in enabling the full benefits of the Intercity Express Programme to be realised.
Furthermore he highlighted how important an effective rail service was for the whole economy of the South West. Given that there are to be a large number of new housing developments in and around Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud and Swindon Mr Clifton-Brown argued that this work was vital towards ensuring community sustainability.

"Users of the Swindon to Kemble line have had their lives blighted for years by the frustrating delays caused by the single track section, as the South West Region continues to grow, this improvement work is absolutely vital" Mr Clifton-Brown remarked.

Closing the debate, Tom Harris MP, the Government minister, whilst not offering any clear promises finished by saying that "From my personal perspective, I wish the scheme a fair wind"

Mr Clifton-Brown does not yet believe that enough has been done to ensure that the ORR will reconsider their decision following the consultation. However, he does believe that a small window of opportunity has opened, but a lot more hard work will be needed. The MP, along with Gloucestershire County Council and other local MPs have a further meeting with Network Rail this month to discuss the next steps as the consultation draws to a close, informed by last nights debate.

Residents who wish to add their support for this scheme in the ORR's funding can write to:-
Bill Emery,
Office of the Rail Regulator
One Kemble Street, London, WC2B 4AN
with copies sent to Geoffrey-Clifton Brown MP

A full copy of the debate can be found at

Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP (Cotswold)

Related Articles:
Cotswold MP responds to mixed report from the ORR
Double Delight for Cotswold MP on Gloucestershire’s Railways

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