Monday, 3 November 2014

TRANSPORT LINKS IMPROVEMENT


The beginning of this week saw a crucial deal struck by the Government that will maintain an air link between Newquay and London Gatwick for the next four years. The Department for Transport signed what is known as a Public Service Obligation, or PSO, to subsidise the important weekday and weekend flights to and from Cornwall and Flybe will operate the flights with timings convenient to those wanting to travel for a full working day at either destination.

I think the deal is really important and part of a wider package of transport measures announced this year that makes sure Cornwall is better connected to London but also other regions of the UK. The air link alone contributes a huge amount to the Cornish economy, with Cornwall Council estimating £54.5 million contributed to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly through it. It serves as a lifeline for businessmen and women who use the service regularly and I was happy to help Cornwall Council press the case for it to be retained. Recently the Government announced a doubling of the money available to projects like this through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund which is a real boost for the regions.

The news has come not long after David Cameron’s recent announcement of a range of measures to improve Cornwall’s rail links which I and others had pressed for in Westminster. There are three main elements: a new train care centre in Penzance which will create much needed local jobs, a sleeper upgrade to help business users and holiday makers and the bringing forward of plans to upgrade and improve our outdated signalling system so that we can run more frequent local services.

I am often contacted by local residents regarding the speed of the train and whilst we have to accept the realities of living so far away the improvements to our signalling system will go a long way in tackling this problem. Not only will it allow a half hourly service from Penzance to Plymouth, but it will also allow a much faster service further up the line with increased reliability. The improvements will also create better capacity and tie in with plans for more modern diesel trains and rolling stock.

Finally, there has been progress on our road infrastructure. The majority of people living in Cornwall still have to rely on their car to get around. There are important plans to dual the A30 in the pipeline. The government has made funding available for the section at Temple and I know Cornwall Council are working hard to progress this. The Transport Minister also recently announced that there would be a feasibility study to progress the duelling of the section at Carland Cross.

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