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Derek Thomas MP welcomes progress of Cornish rail project

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Member of Parliament Derek Thomas met with representatives from Network Rail and Great Western Railway (GWR) on Thursday 2 February at Long Rock Depot in Cornwall, where the rail companies are working with Cornwall Council on a multi-million-pound rail and travel scheme near Penzance.

As work continues on the £6.55m project to install new, longer sidings, the St Ives MP visited the sidings and met with rail workers from Long Rock Depot.

The sidings are being built to the west of Long Rock Depot, which is around one mile from Penzance station, and will enable GWR to service nine-carriage trains which run between London Paddington and Penzance .  The project will provide a dedicated place for the trains to be stored, cleaned and prepared before re-entering service.

Alongside the sidings, the partners are working on plans for a new cycle hub with hire facilities and electric vehicle charging spaces which provide easy access to the recently upgraded South West Coast path. Work began in April 2022 and has seen the site cleared, with installation of the new infrastructure well underway. The project will also see construction of an acoustic barrier to keep noise to a minimum for local residents.

Derek Thomas MP said: “I’ve followed progress at the sidings as I have crossed over to the beach, but I was glad of the opportunity to fully grasp the significance of this development.

“This investment, that follows the investment in the Train Care Centre just a few years ago, is all part of a critical modernisation programme for the rail link between Penzance and Paddington. The fact that these sidings are needed to accommodate nine-car trains demonstrates the continued commitment of Government and Network Rail to our end of the rail network.”

Bogdan Lupu, Network Rail industry programme director for Devon and Cornwall, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Cornwall Council and GWR to continue our investment into the railway in Cornwall and for the opportunity to show Derek Thomas MP our progress.

“Alongside the recently announced Levelling Up funding for the Mid Cornwall Metro rail enhancement, we’ve continued to invest in Cornish rail and have made a number of significant improvements to rail travel in the county, including completing the biggest track investment on the St Ives Bay line in 60 years, upgrading the Newquay branch line and renewing parts of the River Fowey viaduct and track at Lostwithiel station.

“We were pleased that Derek Thomas MP was able to visit Long Rock Depot and meet with our team, who were able to show him first-hand how the new sidings will help to ensure that the railway is an efficient, affordable and reliable green transport option for residents, commuters and tourists alike.”

Matt Barnes, GWR head of strategic service development, said: “We’re pleased that St Ives MP Derek Thomas was able to visit Ponsandane sidings and see for himself the work which is taking shape.

“Once complete, the new sidings will enable an increase in capacity at Long Rock Depot, better allowing us to clean and maintain our fleet, supporting much-needed business, tourism and connectivity in Cornwall.”

Photo credit: Network Rail

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