Council critises new government decision as contradictory to “levelling up” agenda

Telford & Wrekin Council has criticised government plans to terminate direct trains between Telford and London, labelling the move as contradictory to the aim of “levelling up.”

Following documents from the Department for Transport indicating the discontinuation of Avanti West Coast services connecting Wellington, Telford Central, and London, Telford & Wrekin Councillor Lee Carter (Lab) stated in response.

The Cabinet Member for place, the economy & neighbourhood services said: “The removal of these services completely undermines efforts to improve rail travel in the borough and is another example of central government forcing the removal of services in the area. It is utterly perplexing how the government is playing table tennis with the economic growth of our borough especially since a similar U-turn was made only last year.

“The decision flies in the face of levelling up which the government has made one of its key pledges. This move will only weaken regional rail services, stunting growth in one of the fastest growing and ageing populations in the country and a place the Department of Business & Trade has called Telford the ‘beating heart of UK investment’. We are on the side of local people and will continue to confront anything that disadvantages them. We know how important direct services are to improving the Shrewsbury to Wellington rail line and the economic benefits this could give, however it undermines any future rail investment.

“We’re committed to providing affordable public transport and working with operators to maintain and improve the railway. We are calling on the government to reconsider the removal of our direct services, or if they will not, ask what they will do to support open-access operators that are already looking to provide services to do so at pace. This of course should include Wellington, which under open access plans would not be served, and now has had its current service removed, leaving that community with a raw deal.”