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Westminster debates West Country railways

Credit: ITV West Country

South West MPs are to debate the future of the West Country's rail services in parliament today (8 February). They say its an opportunity for them to challenge the lack of investment in the regions rail network compared to other parts of the UK .

Discussions come after Network Rail revealed that the biggest ever upgrade to the region's rail network will be up to four ye​a​r​s​ late.

It means a promise to end overcrowding, and speed up journey times has again been delayed.

Residents say promises made two years ago after storms caused damage to the line have yet to be met.


Rail minister 'proud' of women-only carriages idea

Rail Minister and Devizes MP Claire Perry says she's "proud" to have suggested women-only train carriages last year as a way of making the railways safer.

Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has come in for a string of criticism for suggesting the same thing in a speech last night. He said the idea could provide a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport.

In an interview with Ian Axton, Perry said she wasn't embarrassed that she came up with the idea and commissioned research into it from Middlesex University - research which changed her views.


11 year old girl hit by train in Camborne

Girl hit by a train at Camborne Station Credit: ITV News

An eleven year old girl was hit by a train yesterday evening after falling onto the tracks at Camborne railway station.

She was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital with minor injuries.

The British Transport Police are investigating but officers are currently treating this incident as an accident.

Network Rail looks to protect Devon train line

Some of the damage caused by the storms in Dawlish last winter Credit: PA

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.


Analysis: Multi-million pound rail improvements

David Cameron meets rail workers in Penzance Credit: ITV Westcountry

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

Prime Minister announces rail improvements in Penzance.

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.

Calls for urgency over Dawlish track repairs

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.

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