Rail Strategy for the South West


Peninsula Transport’s Rail Strategy outlines how rail underpins the region’s future economic growth while helping to meet climate goals. The strategy can be accessed:

The rail strategy comes at a time of massive change on the South West’s railways, with passengers making new travel choices following the COVID-19 pandemic. Increases in home and remote working have led to a drop in commuting by train, but more passengers are using the region’s train lines for days out and holidays. The cost of living crisis and national rail strikes have added to the challenges faced by the network.

The strategy builds on Closing the Gap, the 2016 plan for the South West’s rail network produced by the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF). Closing the Gap cemented cross-industry support for critical resilience upgrades to the mainline between Exeter and Newton Abbot following the sea wall collapse at Dawlish in 2014. However, many of the issues raised in the original plan remain to be addressed, and new challenges have arisen.

The strategy sets out five priority themes:

  1. Improving choice: making rail the natural choice for passengers and freight through quicker, simpler and more affordable journeys.
  2. Reducing emissions: switching passengers and freight to rail to relieve pressure on roads.
  3. Supporting demographic change: making stations more accessible and growing the rail network to connect new communities as the population expands.
  4. A resilient network: continuing to highlight risks of disruption to the rail network in vulnerable areas.
  5. Underpinning growth: making the region’s towns and cities more accessible by rail.

The strategy also identifies a series of short term initiatives which could be delivered in the next 1- 2 years.