- West Country (W)
- 8 updates
Network Rail are expected to reveal their thoughts about how to improve the resilience of the train line around South Devon.
They've been asked to investigate a number of options following the devastation caused by the storms earlier in the year. It's not thought they'll go so far as to recommend any particular route or improvement strategy.
As we prepare for Network Rail's delayed report into the future of the Dawlish line, I understand they are warning that a lengthy tunnel under Haldon Hill would cost £3.1 billion and not be ready till 2046!
This effectively rules it out as an option even though David Cameron said today that "all options are still on the table".
It looks likely that the initial report will be published on Monday and avoid making specific recommendations.
However Network Rail will say, I understand, that they are committing eight million pounds to strengthening a 340-metre stretch of seafront on either side of the section that was washed away in February.
Apparently there is some alarm that if there is a repeat of last winter's violent storms, further sections could be breached as well- politically as well as economically embarrassing.
The review of other options - to reinstate the Okehampton route, or build a new inland line as envisaged in the 1930's, will go out to consultation later in the year and will form the basis of the final draft by around April next year - just before the next election.
So any big decisions will be for the next government. A key factor will be whether to create a new line bypassing Dawlish altogether, which would cut journey times to Plymouth but be massively expensive - or upgrading what we have now.
Bob Constantine - Political Correspondent
The Prime Minister promised a raft of multi million pound rail improvements in the West Country today. Rail experts said it wasn't enough and didn't solve the problems on the main line between Paddington and Penzance, claiming it was still stuck in the Victorian era.
David Cameron also didn't rule out building a new inland rail route to bypass Dawlish. Our Cornwall correspondent Steve Hardy reports.
The UK government has revealed that £146.6 million is to be Cornwall’s rail network including a substantial upgrade to sleeper services.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced the deal in Penzance today:-
While the Prime Minister is announcing more money to improve rail services around Penzance, the MP for Dawlish says urgent work still needs doing along the track there.
Anne-Marie Morris says she's still worried that sections of the line via Dawlish are still vulnerable to winter storms - despite repairs to the section that was washed away in February.
A report by Network Rail and the Department for Transport, due out next week, is expected to recommend more upgrades around Dawlish rather than expensive tunnelling to create an alternative route inland.
David Cameron will announce today that Cornwall will receive a multi-million pound package to improve the railway service.
It's hoped the £146 million deal will provide a faster service, lift the local economy and create new jobs.
It's estimated that nearly seven million passengers use the rail network in Cornwall every year, with passenger numbers growing twice as fast as the national average.