Councils and businesses in the South West have hailed a move to improve rail connectivity in the region.
The government this week announced that Great Western Railway (GWR) would be funding a Network Rail report into measures that could increase the speed of services from London to Devon and Cornwall.
The study will feed into work being undertaken by campaign body Peninsular Rail Task Force – a consortium of local authorities and local enterprise partnerships – on rail links to the South West.
“We are pleased that the funding has been found to explore the potential for faster journey time and electrification for the Peninsula Rail Task Force report,” said the task force in a statement.
“We alerted the Department for Transport about this issue in December, so it is helpful that this has finally been sorted, and our sincere thanks to our MPs who have been so active in this regard.”
Rail minister Claire Perry said: “I was determined to find a funding solution for this study to look at line speed improvements and I am delighted that Great Western Railway have provided the backing.
“We are absolutely committed to improving the resilience of the South West’s rail network, with more than £70M invested in this route so far and routine maintenance continuing to strengthen the line further.”
GWR commercial development director Matthew Golton said: “In the coming years we will be delivering the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation of the Great Western network – including a brand new fleet of trains for customers travelling between Devon and Cornwall and London to deliver faster, more frequent services into the capital from 2018.
“With such significant investment on its way, we need to take the opportunity now to make sure the right infrastructure can be in place to maximise the journey time, frequency and capacity benefits that the new AT300 fleet will bring. Our report will help provide information and data to help support the business case for further infrastructure improvements and better connectivity for the region.”