Bob today sought assurances that the Government will fund all Island Line investment and not seek cash from other sources to help pay for improvements.
In a letter to the transport minister Jo Johnson, Bob said that South Western Railway (SWR) should not have to “scramble around to find extra funds” to secure any government investment as ministers consider the Priced Option for the line.
“I am concerned that the Department for Transport has indicated to SWR that its proposals for Island Line would benefit from some additional funding streams being secured – such as financial input from the Isle of Wight Council and possibly Local Enterprise Partnership funds,” Bob said in the letter.
“This seems to be entirely out of kilter with the approach being taken in other parts of the UK, where the DfT is directly investing Government funds to fully deliver improvements to rail services.
“Why is Island Line apparently being singled out for having to scramble around to find extra funds to justify a commitment of Government investment, despite its current rolling stock being over 80 years old, and it being over 50 years without meaningful investment in the route?”
Bob added that as the Island’s MP he felt he must “highlight the current inequity of my constituency’s railway service being overlooked as other parts of the country enjoy the benefits of investment.”
“The proposals for Island Line are relatively modest,” he said. “We are not seeking new, bespoke rail vehicles, but instead reconditioned rolling stock from the 1970s, thereby bringing us forward a few decades (albeit with rolling stock of an age which other parts of the country are now moving away from). Nevertheless, we are satisfied that this is an appropriate solution for the Island.”
He added: “With a decision on the Island Line Priced Option due by the end of 2018, I am now seeking your reassurance that the Government remains committed to supporting these long overdue improvements, and will fund them in full, to confirm its ongoing commitment to a comprehensive rail network – including routes like that in my constituency which is separated by water.”
|Letter to Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Transport||150.82 KB|