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Swindon to Kemble Railway

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 23 June 2011

Network Rail has commenced design work, and I expect implementation to start in 2012-13, with completion by 2014-15 ahead of electrification works on the Great Western main line in 2016-17.

Does the Minister agree that this is an example of intelligent investment to promote economic growth? It will be great news for Gloucestershire, and stands in complete contrast to the failure of the last Labour Government to provide any support of this kind to the railway system.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. He and many of his colleagues in the House have fought a hard campaign for redoubling, and I am delighted that the coalition can deliver that. In addition, the introduction of intercity express programme trains should lead to reductions in journey times and to frequent services, which will benefit the economy in his constituency and surrounding areas.

My right hon. Friend will know that local businesses, local MPs—including me—and the local authority in Swindon would like to see the development of a branch station on the Kemble line at Sparcells. What advice and encouragement can she give to me and to local agencies on the development of that station?

My hon. Friend has also fought a hard campaign to improve rail services in his area. My advice in respect of that project would be to continue to engage closely with the local authority, which has the leading role in taking forward and funding such projects, and to engage closely with Network Rail and the train operator to see what might be logistically feasible to consider in the future.