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Route 12 Reading to Penzance


The Regional Spatial Strategy also recommends that commercial developments which generate high volumes of freight movements should be located close to appropriate rail freight facilities to support more sustainable distribution.

The Department for Transport’s emerging South West and Thames Valley Regional Planning Assessments evaluate rail traffic and infrastructure needs for the next twenty years. The RPAs identify that maintaining and improving connectivity within the South West region and to the rest of the UK is important for the region’s future economic vitality. They also recognise that increasing road congestion will raise rail competitiveness, and that limited car parking capacity creates access issues.

The RPAs will inform the Network Rail GWML RUS, for which work will commence in early 2008.

Future demand Demand for passenger traffic from the south west to London is forecast to grow, as is holiday traffic to Devon and Cornwall. Key to this is the business need for connectivity to London and the south east with journey times of under two hours from key centres such as Taunton and Exeter, and under three hours from Plymouth.

The Department for Transport’s South West Regional Planning Assessment forecasts that demand for journeys towards London in the

Figure 11 Tonnage growth

Network Rail Route Plans 2007

morning peak will be met throughout the route, up to 2016, by increased service provision. However, by 2026 seating demand is forecast to be in excess of capacity from as far west as Westbury, and by as much as 14%. Significant growth is also forecast for local services to Exeter, mainly on the Exmouth branch and from the south Devon area.

Demand for cross country travel is also on the increase and the remapping of the Central Trains and Virgin Cross Country franchises will influence those passenger markets.

Growth in aggregates freight traffic will occur to meet the house building programme demands for the south east of England, for the construction of the Olympics’ sites and, potentially, Crossrail. Network Rail’s Freight RUS, published in March 2007, indicates that by 2014/15, up to two additional trains per day will be required to meet the predicted growth in construction traffic.

The creation of the new Greater Western franchise in April 2006 has seen no significant changes to rolling stock types on the route, except at the eastern end. Train service variations have simplified the route service structure; however, a new service between London and Frome has been introduced, whilst a summer peak service between London and Newquay will be introduced in summer 2007.

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