THE revamping of old infrastructure for the Valleys and Vale will mean easier commuting, more tourism and an all-round stronger economy.
When I was elected as a member of Parliament in 2010, one of my first priorities was to secure the necessary funding for the redoubling of the Stroud-Swindon railway line.
For years, this had been the aspiration of many – but to make it happen, capital investment to the tune of £45 million was necessary.
Fortunately, I was able to work constructively with my immediate fellow Gloucestershire colleagues – all supporting the Coalition Government – and we were able to present an unanswerable case to the Treasury.
We were, of course, helped by knowing the new Government’s commitment to railway investment – in complete contrast to Labour’s longstanding contempt for the industry.
The redoubling project is about to be complete and should be fully functional by the autumn.
Apart from the occasional delays and brief line closures (always planned and properly managed), disruption has been kept to a minimum – so thank you to Network Rail and the contractors.
The new line will make a massive difference to the Valleys and the Vale.
Easier commuting, more local business investment and a boost to tourism will all happen as a result.
This is proof of the value of investment in infrastructure to support our economy.
Naturally, more investment will follow as new trains and complimentary infrastructure is introduced.
Next, we must work on rail stations and other transport links.
There is a strong economic case for enabling commuters to travel to Bristol without having to go via either Swindon or Gloucester.
The answer is to remodel station provision in Stonehouse – and I have already put this issue firmly on the agenda through meetings with the Transport Minister and local stakeholders.
Recently, I was reminded of the importance of better links with Bristol when so many local people and businesses explained how advantageous a shorter, faster run would be.
In one case, a local resident failed to get a job because of the problems of reaching Bristol.
Such avoidable disadvantages should be removed.
I am hugely proud of the investment to redouble the Stroud-Swindon line but there is still more to do to ensure proper connections for the Valleys and Vale are secured.