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09.04.19

Corbyn calls for new electrified West Country rail line bypassing Dawlish

The Labour Party leader has called for a new electrified rail line connecting the West Country with London which will bypass Dawlish.

The inland rail line would avoid Dawlish, where the current railway clings to the coast between Plymouth and Exeter, due to the risk caused by severe weather.

In 2014, the current Penzance-London line was in large parts destroyed by storms at Dawlish, and Jeremy Corbyn said the Dawlish line is still “obviously not protected from the dangers of severe weather.”

The line was out of action for weeks following the 2014 storms and has been shut down by the weather periodically since then. The Labour leader said the situation needs to be addressed beyond patching up the coastal railway.

He stated that “we cannot go on with closures for weeks at a time, due to bad weather and maintenance of the line,” and proposed the new rail line bypassing Dawlish and an electrification programme to speed up the trains.

In February, Network Rail unveiled plans to build a new sea wall to protect the line, the first phase of work in improving the resilience of the coastal railway line.

The DfT also announced £80m funding to build the protective wall in order to “provide better protection for the railway and homes behind it.”

In an interview with Plymouth Live, Corbyn said: “Essentially it is vulnerable and always will be vulnerable because of its location, and I do think we need to look at an inland by-pass route.

“It is also about speeding up the trains and [increasing] capacity further on from Dawlish. And that means either electrification or partial electrification and the use of battery technology in between it.

“We cannot go on with closures for weeks at a time due to bad weather and maintenance of the line. But this can only be tackled with significant investment.”

He also proposed setting up a new investment bank for major projects under a Labour government, as well as regional development banks for economic areas such as the south west.

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