Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership have welcomed the news that the London to Penzance sleeper service is in line to receive additional sleeper carriages.
It was announced today that operator First Great Western will keep the franchise for another two years.
And Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that the Government is including the requirement for First to provide two extra carriages for the sleeper service and will now be continuing to work with the Department for Transport, First Great Western and Network Rail to develop Cornwall’s plans for its rail network.
These plans include a full upgrade of the Night Riviera Sleeper Service; new maintenance facilities at Penzance; and bringing forward the upgrade of the signalling on the rail line between Penzance and Plymouth.
The Government has now agreed to support the first phase of the scheme by providing two additional coaches for the sleeper service, which is currently used by more than 30,000 people each year.
Bert Biscoe, the Council’s cabinet member for transport and waste, said they were now looking forward to exploring opportunities with First, Network Rail and Department for Transport to develop the wider plans.
“Cornwall Council and its colleagues at the Cornwall LEP have worked with the Cornish MPs in the difficult circumstances of public service provisions being discussed in an arena constrained by commercial confidentiality to secure the best possible deal for Cornwall. We welcome this short period of stability, and thank Mr McLoughlin for his commitment to sorting out the franchising situation.
“However, Cornwall’s rail agenda is ambitious, forward-looking and dynamic – and we are working to improve the infrastructure by upgrading the mainline signalling through Cornwall so that, when the franchise is re-tendered it will enable us to be developing services and expanding the importance of the railway in the conduct of Cornish life, trade and leisure.”
Cornwall Council and the LEP are putting £1 million towards the costs of providing the additional carriages as part of its ongoing investment in rail infrastructure, which has seen the Council become Network Rail’s largest local authority partner.
“Efficient transport links are something the rest of the country takes for granted,” said LEP chairman Chris Pomfret. “Providing these improved rail links for businesses is crucial to Cornwall’s future investment and productivity, particularly in the light of the recent announcement re the Newquay to London Gatwick route.”