Swindon to Kemble – Stalled But Not Derailed

Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown met yesterday, along with a number of other MPs, with the Railways Minister, Theresa Villiers MP, to discuss the future of the Swindon to Kemble railway line.

Mr Clifton-Brown led a delegation of 7 MPs, including fellow Gloucestershire MPs Neil Carmichael, Martin Horwood, Richard Graham, and Laurence Robertson as well as Robert Buckland (Swindon South) and James Gray (North Wiltshire). This was the largest delegation Mr Clifton-Brown had ever led to see any Minister during his 18 years as a Member of Parliament, demonstrating the widespread desire to see the redoubling project implemented.

The Minister indicated that there was no money allocated for the scheme at the present time, however, she did repeat that the scheme is viable, offered value for money and had “strong local support.”

Various funding options were discussed amongst the group, including the 7 day rail fund of £200m owned by Network Rail and the general contingency fund that the Department of Transport have on their rail budget, which if unspent could be allocated to the project in the future.

The good news that came out of the meeting was that the full Feasibility Study and Business Case undertaken by Network Rail is to be submitted to the Minister’s department by the end of December and that the Minister has asked Network Rail to keep the report updated. Clearly if the Minister is prepared to commit funds to the study she expects it will be implemented at some point.

Commenting after the meeting Mr Clifton-Brown said, “The good news is that the door is not shut in our face, the bad news is that it is only slightly ajar and it will require a lot of hard work by those present to ensure this scheme happens in the future.”

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