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Corbyn calls for electrified West Country rail line


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a rail line connecting the West Country with London and by-passing Dawlish.

The Labour leader’s plan is to create an electrified route that does not run through Dawlish, due to the risk of the line being damaged by severe weather. Stormy seas damaged the South West Rail line in 2014, when the line was washed away and left suspended in mid-air.

The resulting line closure is estimated to have cost the local economy up to £1.2bn.

In addition to being closed for weeks in 2014, the railway has also been put out of action periodically since due to weather.

In an interview with local newspaper Plymouth Live, Corbyn said: “The first problem is the Dawlish line, which is obviously not protected from the dangers of severe weather.”

He added: “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.”

The opposition leader also indicated that he supports an electrification programme to speed up trains.

Corbyn said: “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,” Corbyn added. “But this can only be tackled with significant investment.”

Speaking of how he would fund such infrastructure projects, the Labour leader said: ““There could be an investment bank for major projects and regional development banks for economic areas like the South West, which is key.

“That would support local developers and improve and support investment in SMEs and local infrastructure improvements, and long-term development in each city, which is difficult.”

Earlier this year, Network Rail submitted plans for an improved sea wall in Dawlish, to protect the South West Rail line from rough seas.

Plans developed by Arup were filed with Teignbridge District Council to “improve the long-term resilience of the railway linking Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the UK”.

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