'Getting on track with rail changes vital for the area'

You can read my latest monthly column for the Witney Gazette, here:

As a growing area, where more and more people are wanting to do business, live and call home, one of West Oxfordshire’s most pressing issues is having the transport in place to ensure we can all get to where we need to go, quickly and easily.

Anyone who has met me since becoming your Member of Parliament will have undoubtedly heard me mention the words ‘final fix for the A40’ and knows that this is a clear priority for me and for West Oxfordshire.  I thank all those that signed my petition which I presented to Parliament last year.  I have had many meetings with Ministers and I am pleased that there are many options being considered that offer encouragement.

However, roads are only one part of the picture.  That is why I hosted my ‘Ask the GWR’ event in Charlbury recently, with representatives from Network Rail and Great Western Railway.  As there is a consultation on the future of the GWR franchise taking place – closing today – I wanted residents to have a relaxed, open discussion where they could raise concerns and discuss future plans.  I have used points raised in this meeting to inform my response to the consultation.

I was delighted by the turnout and evident importance of our railways services to local residents.  This is a period of great investment in our railways, with electric trains already transforming journeys into London Paddington and the great benefits of the new Oxford Parkway station already being felt.  It is essential that West Oxfordshire is able to capitalise on this and gain much needed improvements in the years to come.

In particular, the Government’s partnering with the North Cotswold Line Task Force – which is pressing for a doubling of the track and which I contribute to – is very exciting.  This investment would mean more, regular services, making commuting and travelling by train a much more realistic prospect for many.

Although great changes to the railways do take time – with this franchise due for renewal in either 2020 or 2022 – it is the hard work now that will make West Oxfordshire’s railways fit for the future in the decades to come – and we are making great progress.

If you want to keep updated about this issue and my work generally in West Oxfordshire and Westminster, I send an email newsletter to thousands of residents every two weeks – you can sign up through my website at www.robertcourts.co.uk.  Or if you want to contact me about any issue – local or national - please email robert@robertcourts.co.uk.

Published on 21.02.18 in the Witney Gazette.