Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 17:26 UK

Rail improvements to be delayed

John Penrose MP
Mr Penrose met with Network Rail bosses to discuss the delays

Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose has said he is angry after discovering promised local railway track improvements have been postponed.

In a meeting with Network Rail chiefs it was confirmed to Mr Penrose the work would not now take place until 2014.

The work, which includes doubling the track, was initially due to take place this year to reduce delays to services.

Network Rail said it was important for taxpayers' cash to be spent properly and any investment made wisely.

"The original scheme was designed to ease congestion between Worle Junction and Weston Milton," a Network Rail spokeswoman said.

"We were able to achieve that improved performance through a structured and concerted approach jointly carried out with First Great Western.

"The Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy process will determine the track, platforms and train services required on the entire stretch between Worle Junction and Weston-super-Mare.

"It will also consider the West of England Partnership's aspiration to increase capacity across the whole of the Bristol area - facilitating the broader Bristol metro scheme," she added.

Bottlenecks are currently created by trains going into Weston which are held up on the single track.

'Slammed on brakes'

Network Rail said service standards had improved significantly in the last two years, without any track improvements, so the work was no longer a high priority.

John Penrose said: "This is bad news for Weston and the villages. The track improvements should now be in operation and providing real help to commuters and tourists.

"But instead of getting on with the work Network Rail have slammed on the brakes - 2014 is far too long for Weston to wait."

Mr Penrose continued: "Commuters are already packed in like sardines and, despite local opposition, the government are set on their plans to build 12,000 new houses in Weston-super-Mare.

"Network Rail needs to sort its act out. The managers I met were completely unapologetic and didn't seem to care about the delays."

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