Better transport links mean better social and working lives for all of us.
I have been working hard with Cornwall Council's transport team and the Local Enterprise Partnership on improving road links. I was pleased last year to help secure £198 million of growth funding for Cornwall from the Government; money which will be used to tackle congestion on Cornish roads, including the A390. A key priority for me is to see the A30 dualled between Carland Cross and Chiverton, ending the regular jams we all have to put up with. The funding for this has been secured and the public consultation has now taken place. I also helped secure £10.7 million additional road maintenance funding to assist Cornwall Council in filling more potholes and repair our local roads.
I have welcomed the news that the Government is releasing £5 million from its Highways Challenge Fund for use in funding the A39 Trispen Renewal Scheme. This scheme will provide for major road improvement along the five mile route removing the need for frequent patching works, delivering improved provision for cyclists, extra safety features, and a drainage upgrade.
I was also pleased to help secure a £146 million package of improvements for our rail services. The investment, includes an upgraded sleeper service, a new Cornish rail maintenance depot that will create up to seventy new local jobs and upgraded signalling along the track. This upgraded signalling will reduce delays and cancellations and pave the way towards more train services. I want to see these increased services delivered, with twice-hourly services from Cornish mainline stations to Plymouth and a three hour journey time from Plymouth to London. It is ridiculous how long it takes to get up country by rail and I want every effort to be made to reduce journey times. Services on the Maritime Line have been increased with an extra carriage and more frequent trains. The station carpark in Truro will be upgraded too.
It was been a pleasure working with Nigel Blackler and the transport team at Cornwall Council to secure this transformational change to Cornwall's rail services. All together, the package of investment will lead to more frequent, reliable and faster train services. Ensuring Cornwall has a resilient transport infrastructure has been a priority for me since being elected and I am delighted to have helped secure this transformation. Too often in the past Cornwall has had the hand me downs from up country. Now we will be getting the very latest trains and thanks to signalling investment, more reliable and faster services.
A £5 billion investment on the Great Western Line is committed from 2010 to 2020 and will benefit those travelling beyond Cornwall.
Communities in Truro and Falmouth have been badly affected by changes to bus services in recent months. Cornwall Council is responsible for maintaining rural bus routes and has special funding to do this, receiving £191,280 covering the period 1 January to 31 March 2014 and a further £765,118 covering the 2014/15 financial year. Cornwall Councillors have themselves put more money into this budget, voting to increase funding to support local buses.
I want to see this funding maintained and effectively used to ensure that our bus network meets the needs of its users. I am also supporting many local organisations that are working hard to develop more cycle ways and improve footpaths too.
Falmouth is one of our historic ports that connects Britain to the wider world – with 95% of UK imports and exports travelling by sea this link remains as important as ever. I want to see Falmouth’s role as a Port, as a yacht building and ship maintenance centre grow over the years ahead, and regularly lobby for new contracts for Port based businesses, bringing a range of Ministers, including Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, to Falmouth to see the first class work carried out at the Docks. Businesses at the Docks feel strongly that they need Fal Harbour to be dredged in order for the Port to remain on the map of world trade and I have been working on enabling the dredging to go ahead without impacting unduly on the marine habitats of the Fal. In 2012 I secured an intervention from George Osborne that has enabled the Harbour Commissioners to undertake a trial dredge to explore the impact of dredging on the ecosystem. This was an important step towards gaining consent for dredging this year; something I determined to see happen.
The most modern of all connections, the internet, can make a real difference to people’s lives. I am closely monitoring the roll out of Superfast broadband across Cornwall. Whilst this has now reached the majority of homes and businesses across my constituency I am concerned by delays in some areas and have taken these concerns up with the Superfast management team. As of March 2015, Superfast Cornwall has reached 95% of Cornish properties. I think that we can go one better and have helped secure funding to enable 99% by 2020.
In addition, the Government has reached a deal with the four mobile networks to improve coverage across Cornwall. A binding agreement has been reached with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to tackle poor signal issues in so-called partial not-spots. The four networks have collectively agreed to a guaranteed £5 billion investment programme to improve mobile infrastructure by 2017, and I am determined to make sure Cornwall gets at least it's fair share of this new investment.