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SWELP Rail Strategy

A family walking along the platform of a rural train station

Swindon and Wiltshire Local Economic Partnership (SWLEP) has commissioned BEIS to do a rail strategy to support their Local Industrial Strategy.

Phase 1 of the Strategy has found that the highest economic benefit would result from developing three lines:

  1. Bristol-Swindon-Oxford-Cambridge
  2. Southampton-Swindon-Oxford-Birmingham (an extension of TransWilts)
  3. Swindon-Gloucester-Birmingham- Manchester

These lines is would give the opportunity for local stations, east of Swindon, close to M4 Junction 16 or Royal Wootton Bassett Parkway or Moredon Bridge, Corsham,  Devizes Parkway, Porton Parkway, Ashton Park, and, since a workshop with town councils, railway groups and planners, Wilton.

50 people had been at the workshop.  At the SWLEP meeting in January 2019, CPRE welcomed the rail strategy and asked for clarity about consultation.  Was the strategy being widely advertised? Before decisions are made, will the strategy be part of consultation on the roll forward of the Local Plans, where environmental and social issues are taken into account?    The answer came that SWLEP is continuing to support roads as well as rail and it is necessary to register with the Growth Hub in order to be on the circulation list.

The south west wants a faster service between Plymouth, Exeter and London

But Wiltshire wants improved services.  HS2 will give strength to other areas so In order to keep up Wiltshire’s attraction for investment it is necessary to improve rail services.  Phase 2 of the strategy will prioritise schemes and develop a time line for implementation.

It may be noted that there is spare capacity on the Plymouth to Reading line and on the TransWilts line which, if extended, could help divert traffic from the A350.

The Chairman said nothing would happen unless SWLEP promotes it. The Government had done electrification and was unlikely to do more.  SWLEP would have to rely on private funding and that will be based on the revenue generated through ticket sales.

 

 

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