Rail decision shows our region is being short-changed: MP

rail-nov-2016The south west is being ‘short-changed’ by the Tory government, says Bristol South MP Karin Smyth.

During a special House of Commons debate (22 November) about the government’s decision to pull the plug on electrification of two of the main rail lines from Bristol Temple Meads, she told MPs of fears among her constituents that taxpayers’ money is being diverted from the great western railway line to help fund HS2.

“Bristol is key to the entire regional economy and that is why this is such a critical decision,” she said.

Scroll down to watch Karin Smyth’s speech

“Bristol people feel we are being short-changed, and as we are the gateway to the region, the entire south-west region is being short-changed,” she said.

Exploring the reasons for the rail announcement and the lack of clout for the region’s case from the south west’s 51 Tory MPs (out of 55), she said: “Who is making these decisions on behalf of Bristol colleagues? Consider the make-up of the Government, the Cabinet and the Tory Front Bench. Apart from the Secretary of State for International Trade, the right hon. Member for North Somerset (Liam Fox), the south-west has no representation at the top table of Government.”

The debate followed an announcement this month that Conservative Ministers have shelved improvements announced by the Labour government in 2009 for the Bath to Bristol stretch of the line, and for the link between Temple Meads and Parkway – which had been due for completion in 2020.

Referring to the great western rail line, she said: “In just six years, Brunel managed to build the entire thing from Paddington to Bristol—but in the last six years we have seen a complete lack of progress. Decisions have been delayed and deferred and now progress has been halted.”