Friday, 13 February 2009

The world stops at Bristol... part 1

There are those in the far South West who quite enjoy the fact that we are not in the middle of the country (there wouldn't be any beaches, for one thing). But increasingly it appears that England is drawing in on itself and abandoning the remoter areas.

Take yesterday's announcement about new trains for example. Lovely shiny new trains are being bought from a British consortium for two of the most important lines in the country and 12,000 jobs are being created in the process.

Except that, as we all know, this isn't true.

First, the consortium is basically Japanese and the trains themselves will be made in Japan.

Second, the number of jobs being created is only 500.

And third, the lines that will run the new trains are not the East Coast Mainline and the Great Western line. The East Coast Mainline bit is true enough. But the Great Western Line has two branches - the section from Paddington to South Wales and the section from Paddington to Penzance. Only one of these is getting the new trains and it isn't the bit that comes to Cornwall. The new rolling stock won't make it any further South West than Bristol.

Lib Dem MP Matthew Taylor has been kicking up a fuss about this and there may be some hope of getting things changed. Previous plans to halt the mainline at Plymouth have been successfully fought off (albeit that about half the trains stop at Plymouth) and the sleeper service has been saved.

Regional Minister Ben Bradshaw has said the plans will mean services to our part of the world will 'improve'. I won't hold my breath.

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