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Rail Services

Volume 497: debated on Thursday 22 October 2009

12. If he will assess the effect on the tourism industry of the proposed reduction in the number of direct rail services between London and Torbay constituency. (294804)

First Great Western operates two daily services to Torbay via Taunton that take around three and a quarter hours, and South West Trains operates two slower services via Yeovil that take around four and a quarter hours. The South West Trains services will be withdrawn in December 2009. Few passengers use these services to travel to Torbay from London, and regular faster services are available from London to Torbay by changing at Newton Abbot.

I am not sure that many other constituencies face a halving of their direct line services to London. The Waterloo service is cheaper than First Great Western and is used by people, including occasionally the MP for Torbay to get from the constituency to London. Will the Minister review the situation in the light of the fears of the tourist industry that it will lose custom as a result of those cuts?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that the number of trains on the Torbay branch line will remain the same, providing access to Torbay. The Department has received no representations from South West Tourism on this issue. If the Liberal Democrats would run rail services because they are totemic rather than because they meet passenger needs, it perhaps tells us something about how unprepared they are to take—