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‘Rail link will be fixed in six-week timetable’

PRIME Minister David Cameron visited the storm-hit Westcountry this week and declared that the South Hams is open for business.
Mr Cameron was visiting Dawlish to view the site of the wrecked railway line, which has cut off the South Hams from the rest of the country, for himself.
He said: ‘We have to send out the message that Devon and the Westcountry is open for business and tourism and people should be encouraged to come here.’
Mr Cameron was in the south west on Tuesday for the second day running to see for himself the impact of the storms which have been hitting local coastlines for weeks on end – especially the wrecked rail line at Dawlish.
He assured people including commuters from across the South Hams: ‘This rail link will be re-established in the six-week timetable. This line does have a future, it is incredibly beautiful and scenic part of our infrastructure.
‘It is challenged by the weather but we will bring all our resources to make sure it can be back up and running.
‘I am glad I came to see it myself as you don’t get the sheer scale of the collapse in photos and on television.’
He added: ‘Network Rail are working as hard as they can, they have a good plan and we have promised everything we can to help. But we need to look at the resilience of the line in the long term and see what other alternatives may be available.
‘It makes sense and it is right to review and consider these alternatives and any other proposals.
‘In the short-term though, we have to get the line open.
‘Longer term we need to see what more we can do to improve the sea defences.’
This came as Jonathan Hawkins, county and district councillor for Dartmouth and Kingswear, has reiterated that urgent Government action is needed to keep Dartmouth and the South Hams connected to the rest of the UK. He said: ‘It’s not good for any of us as no one can get down here. The Government has got to start taking it seriously. We need a second line in Devon.
‘We can’t rely on the Dawlish line in bad weather. That has to happen – it’s got to happen.
‘The one thing we’ve got to all do now is to get the Government to realise that we need funding in the South West for our roads and trains – we suffer because we haven’t got them.’
Dartmouth MP Sarah Wollaston has rejected a single new rail route which would completely bypass Totnes as a solution to the region’s latest rail disaster.
Meanwhile, local rail commuters face six weeks of rail travel chaos as Network Rail continues its battle to reopen the storm-damaged line at Dawlish.
The MP is demanding the immediate repair of the coastal route and while she wants the Government to look at possible alternative rail routes through Devon, she said: ‘On that matter, some have raised about where a hypothetical inland line would go and I know there has been some discussion of a line that would run from Exeter to Okehampton and then down to Plymouth.

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