News that the estimated cost of the re-doubling of the Swindon-Kemble line has come in £7.4m over the available budget has prompted an immediate call to action from Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.
In a response to a series of Parliamentary Questions from the MP the Government has stated that they are in negotiation with Network Rail about the final cost, but cannot say when a final announcement will be made. Mr Clifton-Brown believes that this is a deliberate attempt by the Government to delay making a decision until after the General Election.
In order to break the deadlock Mr Clifton-Brown is seeking an urgent meeting with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to see what steps can be taken to overcome the budget shortfall. As the improvement works will additionally benefit residents in South Wales, through its role as a diversionary route in particular when the Severn Tunnel is closed, Mr Clifton-Brown will today be contacting all Welsh MPs with an interest in the scheme calling for their support in lobbying the Government to find a solution, including the option of the Welsh Assembly contributing to the programme.
Speaking today Mr Clifton-Brown said: “The benefits of this scheme are clear to all Gloucestershire’s rail users and I have had continued expressions of support from Ministers at the Department for Transport and the Regional Minister. Sadly, it seems that their masters are trying to delay a decision being made. However, I hope they will realise that it is not only a budgetary issue but a timing issue. There is a window of opportunity if the go ahead is given soon. Resources that are currently available on the North Cotswolds line could easily be transferred. If not they will be moved to larger national schemes and the Swindon to Kemble line will fall to the back of the queue, perhaps for many years. However, on behalf of all Kemble rail users I can assure you that my lobbying will continue until the correct decision is made”
Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown