Friday, 27 July 2012

Transport

The Cornish economy has always had to contend with the challenge of its geography. There is no getting away from the fact that we are a peninsula located hundreds of miles away from the main population centres of the UK and this has always been a factor and a cost that businesses will take into account when deciding where to locate.

That is why communication and transport infrastructure is so important to the future success of our economy. It is why the decision last year by Cornwall Council to invest in superfast broadband was right because it gives Cornwall the edge in some of the emerging digital and technology industries for whom distance is less of a barrier.

But we also need to safeguard and upgrade our existing transport infrastructure to help overcome the barriers of distance. Firstly, we need to see the duelling of the A30 completed and representatives from Cornwall Council held a meeting with the Roads Minister last week to discuss plans to implement the much awaited duelling of the A30 around Temple. One plan is that you could “de-trunk” the road with Cornwall Council taking control of it and also being given some additional funding by central government to manage and upgrade it.

Secondly, Cornwall has one of the deepest natural ports in the world at Falmouth and it has great potential for the future but it needs investment and upgrading which would open up the possibility of making it accessible to cruise ships and boost the economy of West Cornwall. Reaching agreement over the environmental impact of any change has been a long, drawn out process but we might just be nearing a final agreement.

Newquay airport is also an important link for the business community and we should continue to work to secure its financial viability. Finally, and by no means least, we need to improve our rail infrastructure. This week, the government published the detailed franchise specification for the Great Western line connecting Cornwall to London. It has been a contentious issue and I, and other MPs, met the Rail Minister late last week to secure some 11th hour amendments to the original proposal.

It is excellent news that the vital sleeper service to London has been secured for another fifteen years but there was some alarm that the government initially appeared to be contemplating reducing the number of guaranteed direct services to London from nine down to six per day without any corresponding improvement in the quality or frequency of the local service. A compromise has left a number of options on the table during the franchise period which can be assessed once the bids are finally in. Such flexibility makes sense. I hope that we will not only be able to safeguard the existing service but improve it.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.