Neil recognises the real need for improvements in transport to the South West and rural transport.
The economy of the South West of England is bigger than Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, South Wales or Leeds. But it is only served by one main rail ink and one main road link. This causes congestion, delays and stifles economy and social benefits in the South West.
Over 100,000 people in north Cornwall and mid Devon do not have access to the rail network. 1 in 5 people in Devon do not have a car. That’s why it’s so important that public transport in Devon gets the investment it needs so every family has the opportunity to get from A to B.
Neil has long campaigned for investment to improve Devon’s transport infrastructure.
Since 2010, he has driven a long campaign to improve the A30/A303. The strongly welcomed the announcement in 2014 of £2 billion investment to transform the A303/A30/A358 route into a new strategic corridor to the South West.
As it stands, the busy M5 is an arterial road and the main strategic route both in and out of the South West. The West Country is dependent on this road for tourism and business movement. Businesses in Devon are very vulnerable to disruption and congestion on this road, especially during the tourism season. Currently, the A303/A30/A358 is one of the most congested roads in the south-west, and in the summer months road usage increases by up to 50%.
Not only will the upgrade to the A303/A30 alleviate congestion on the M5 and provide a second major route to the South West. It will kick start seven new construction projects in the South West, creating an estimated 1,300 construction jobs.
A30/A303 from Honiton to Ilminster
The next step is to push for upgrades to the A30/A303 from Ilminster to Honiton. This would complete the chain of road upgrades into the heart of the West Country.
This stretch or road is still a single carriageway that is very susceptible to traffic jams. Plans to improve this road and make it a second strategic route into the South West has been in planning for 15 years. Neil believes enough is enough and is pressing transport ministers for the full upgrade to get the go-ahead.
It is one of his top priorities for the Parliament 2015-2020. In March 2016, Neil led a Parliamentary debate on Road Routes to the South West. You can read Neil’s speech and the full debate at this link.
Better Commuter Services
Neil has also been campaigning to improve the service and frequency of trains in Devon. Neil has met with representatives from South West Trains to discuss an additional 08:00 service from Axminster to Exeter, stopping at both Feniton and Honiton.
Neil is also working with Mid Devon District Council to make the economic case for a new railway station for commuter services running from Bristol to Exeter to stop off at Cullompton.
Neil also been in contact with Network Rail, regarding additional early morning train services between Axminster and Exeter, and of the feasibility of building another passing loop between Whimple and Broadclyst. Currently there are no trains arriving in Exeter between 8:13 and 9:37. This is rather inconvenient for the majority of workers who start at 9am.
More broadly Neil works with Devon County Council and East Devon District Council and Mid Devon District Council in securing a resilient transport network for Devon that fulfils the needs of local residents whilst also making it easier for businesses and visitors to access Devon.
Backing the Devon Metro and New Cullompton Station
Neil strongly supports the Devon Metro project. He wants to see the opening of a new station at Cullompton, with stopping services to Exeter and Taunton.
Not only will the project increase rail services to Devon’s largest towns, but take pressure off busy roads and existing rail routes. More information can be found at this link: