Below is a letter from myself and other South West MPs asking the Government what has happened to the £31 million funding for rail resilience promised after last winter’s floods.
Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Rd
10th February 2014
As you know vital rail services in the South West Peninsula have in the last couple of weeks once again been disrupted by severe weather, further underlining the weak resilience of our region’s strategic transport links. The South West Peninsula is increasingly southern Britain’s front-line for extreme weather. The events of this week have again underlined that fact. Climate change projections warn that such events will occur more frequently up to 2050 and beyond.
We need urgent Government investment in our region’s rail infrastructure and services. In early 2013 Network Rail drew up details plans setting out work required to reduce the likelihood of damage from flooding, at a reasonable cost of £31.3m. It was expected that this investment, which would also come from the DfT, would materialise in the Autumn Statement. It was, however, omitted despite public commitments to produce the funding.
Consequently, there is widespread concern in the region that the Government is failing to grasp the urgency of these repairs. The immediate effect of the 2012/13 floods has been an estimated £140 million cost to the public purse, transport and economy of the Peninsula. The cumulative total will be significantly more when more recent severe weather disruption is taken into account.
Attached with this letter is a report put together by the five major local authorities – Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Somerset & Torbay – and the region’s LEPs, called ‘The South West – Extreme Weather Resilience’. The report contains a deliberate and measured assessment into the severe weather events of 2012/13 and serves as a siren warning for the kind of infrastructural and economic damage these severe weather events can and will inflict.
Securing the investment needed for Network Rail’s flood resilience programme for the South West is the urgent priority and a necessary first step in a campaign to deliver the transport infrastructure and services vital to the Peninsula’s future economic security.
We would therefore urge you to read the report and heed its recommendations, and deliver as an immediate priority the £31.3m flood resilience funding so that work can begin to strengthen the South West’s rail network for the future.
Nick Harvey MP (North Devon)
Ben Bradshaw MP (Exeter Central)
David Heath MP (Somerton & Frome)
Anne-Marie Morris MP (Newton Abbot)
Adrian Sanders MP (Torbay)
Neil Parish MP (Tiverton & Honiton)
Geoffrey Cox MP (Torridge & West Devon)
Stephen Gilbert MP (St Austell & Newquay)
Andrew George MP (St Ives)