Thursday, 7 November 2013

A comparison of how shoddy Cornwall's rail network is

The government has a flagship project High Speed 2, I can't criticise the thought, investment in the rail network is long overdue. Not sure that investing all that money in one place is the right thing. I'm glad Mebyon Kernow has called for money instead to be spent in Cornwall and on the rail link through South West England.

I thought I'd like at a quick comparison at how our train line stacks up in terms of times and cost, using the journey planner on the National Rail website. It is quite shocking.

Penzance-Paddington about 5 hours 30 minutes at the cost of £58.

London-Paris about 2 hours 20 cost varies from just over £100 to £200.

Penzance-Birmingham about 6 hours costs around £140.

London-Birmingham about hour and a half cost between £40 and £70.

Penzance-Edinburgh enough to lose the will to live in time 11 hours + and money £210+.

London-Edinburgh between 4 and 5 hours cost around £150.

Being realistic London and these other cities have more people than Cornwall and more travelling between them. But with the gaps between travel here and elsewhere so large it discourages train travel to and from Cornwall. I accept these aren't direct comparisons in terms of distance either.

The reality is though the 11 hours to Edinburgh by train is 555 miles by road, even if on those motorways you only average 55 mph, you'll be there an hour quicker from Penzance. It must be said the 300 odd miles to London is about the same rail or road. Travel the 270 miles to Birmingham and it's hard to imagine you could take longer than the 6 hour rail journey. Cardiff is the same from Penzance 6 hours by rail,  220 miles by road. The trouble is for a single passenger, rail will be cheaper for a family or travelling together but it would be more expensive. 

If rail is to be a serious travel option and the government is investing fairly everywhere as Cameron claimed today on the phone to the  Cornish media, then it needs to be much better. After all, the history of road improvements in this part of the world is woeful, decades have been spent lobbying for dualling at Temple. The Prime Minister indicated today that A30 upgrades was Cornwall getting it's fair share of infrastructure spending. So it looks like improving road and rail travel within Cornwall and with the rest of the UK is far from the Tories agenda. Whilst they push forward with 21st century rail improvements elsewhere, we're still relying on a train line that has changed little since the days of Brunel. Cornwall deserves better.