Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has given a warm reception to today’s decision by the South West Region Transport and Infrastructure board to divert money originally set aside for a new bypass in Westbury to the re-doubling of the Swindon to Kemble line.
The opportunity to transfer this funding came at the suggestion of the Minister for the South West, Jim Knight MP after he was challenged by Mr Clifton-Brown during Septembers Regional Grand Committee to produce one positive outcome from the proceedings.
Mr Clifton-Brown has led the renewed campaign for funding along with the other Gloucestershire MP’s and the County Council and local campaigners since the Office of the Rail Regulator chose not to include the scheme in their funding priorities for 2009-2014.
The campaign has centred around the economic significance of the railway line to the region, and how an improved section of track would offer diversionary routes for trains to a number of different regions, provide a reduced journey time between London and the South West, enable the repair of the aged railway tracks and the fact the work is essential in enabling the full benefits of the Intercity Express Programme to be realised. Furthermore, given that similar work is taking place on the North Cotswolds line all the resources will be in place for the work
Speaking today, Mr Clifton-Brown said “This is obviously good news and proves how effective the lobbying campaign has been in that all key decision makers have fallen into line in support and whilst the Department for Transport still need to sign this off, I have met Ministers in the Department on a number of occasions and they have all expressed their support. However, the champagne must remain on ice for now as the final costs of the scheme will not be clear until the middle of December when Network Rail will have completed their feasibility study – whilst the last estimates suggested that it would cost £38m, until we have this new study completed we cannot say with all certainty that the total of £50m made available will cover the cost of the work.”
Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP Cotswolds