Rail priorities

The rail sub-group, Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF), leads the work on rail. Its ambition of a 21st century rail network is underpinned by three priorities:

A resilient and reliable railway – protecting the coastal mainline is our top priority. The South West rail network needs a resilient line, with trains that are capable of operating all year round. Dawlish sea wall improvements, starting with Phase 1 just to the south of Dawlish Station, is now complete. Phase 2 to the north of Dawlish Station is under construction, and Phase 3 Parson’s Tunnel Rockfall Shelter is about to commence construction. Government funding is being sought for Phase 4 Central Tunnels, while Phase 5 involving resilience of the line between Teignmouth and Parson’s Tunnel is subject to a design review and a commitment to fund the scheme from Government.

There also needs to be a commitment to complete development work for a package of infrastructure enhancements to deliver greater track capacity between Castle Cary and Exeter, along the Exeter to Waterloo line via Honiton and Yeovil. This will both facilitate trains being diverted in the event of line blockades on the main line via Taunton, but also enable frequency increases serving Honiton and Cranbrook.

Reducing journey times and better connectivity between our key UK markets, including London, the Midlands and the North. PRTF has stated that there needs to be infrastructure and signalling improvements and an introduction of modern rolling stock for the CrossCountry Voyager fleet. There also needs to be an increase in frequency of trains for passengers travelling both within and in and out of the Peninsula. In addition to the hourly fast service from Paddington through to Penzance, moving from a current two-hourly semi-fast service from Paddington to Exeter to an hourly service initially and subsequently extended from Exeter to Plymouth.

Increasing capacity and comfort will transform the service for passengers. There needs to be an increase in the frequency of trains and the number of seats must meet forecasted passenger growth. We need to see the introduction of pioneering digital services to drive a world leading passenger experience. There must be a commitment for continuous, reliable and quality mobile connectivity, enabling improved WiFi provision to allow passengers to be productive across the entire rail network. Mainline services need to offer onboard catering of a consistent and high quality standard and there needs to be increased luggage capacity to deliver a high quality passenger experience.

There are numerous rail schemes across the peninsula being undertaken by a range of organisations including Network Rail, Great Western Railway and local transport authorities. Together these schemes contribute to the overall improvement of the rail network in the South West. Learn more about: