Conservative Leader Councillor Mark Weston, and passionate advocate of rail investment, has criticised the decision announced today of delaying, indefinitely, the electrification of rail track between Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads/Bristol Parkway.
The modernisation of the Great Western Railway Line running from London to Cardiff was originally planned to be completed by 2020, with expected journey times to the capital cut to 1 hour duration.
However, unexpected engineering problems encountered and cost overruns led to a comprehensive review of spending on the scheme last year by Sir Peter Hendy.
Now, Government has concluded that these difficulties necessitate looking to make alternative improvements (like making signal and bridge upgrades and newer trains) instead, rather than actually complete the route upgrade.
Cllr Weston (Henbury & Brentry) said: “We may be still be getting an improvement of travel time and capacity, but I am afraid there is no hiding or masking my disappointment over this decision.
“This outcome is especially difficult to accept when projects like the controversial HS2 – which only offers only very minimal or marginal gains – are still proceeding.
“There is perhaps some comfort to be drawn from the fact that local improvements around the city, like the Henbury Spur, will not be affected by today’s announcement. We should also take heart that we will be getting new and more frequent intercity trains.
“So it isn't to say that our network will not be invested in, nevertheless this is a setback. The campaign to get the mainline between Bristol and London electrified will go on.”
CONTACT MARK WESTON tel 0770 942 1667