The Department for Transport and Great Western Railway (GWR) has announced funding for a new study into improvements to railway infrastructure between London and Devon and Cornwall.
The study, which will be carried out by Network Rail and funded and commissioned by GWR, will look at what more can be done to existing track, signalling and other railway infrastructure to improve line speed and ensure the full benefits of the new trains coming onto the network are realised.
The work will inform a report which the Peninsula Rail Task Force is providing to the government this summer, and the consideration of future funding for the railway and franchises on the route.
The task force is a rail improvement group formed in early 2013, comprising 5 local authority areas and 2 Local Enterprise Partnerships.
Rail passengers in the south west are already set to benefit from better and faster journeys with the go-ahead from a brand new fleet of AT300 trains running between London and Cornwall, which was announced last year. The deal will allow Great Western Railway to buy 29 new long distance trains to serve the south west from 2018. This will cut journey times from London to Exeter by up to 5 minutes, to Plymouth by up to 6 minutes and to Penzance by up to 14 minutes.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said:
“I was determined to find a funding solution for this study to look at line speed improvements and I am delighted that Great Western Railway have provided the backing.
We are absolutely committed to improving the resilience of the south west’s rail network, with more than £70 million invested in this route so far and routine maintenance continuing to strengthen the line further.”