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Friday 19th
posted by Richard Bagley in Britain

RAIL workers accused ministers of “betrayal” yesterday after Tory Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin tried to wriggle free of pledges to improve south-west England’s ability to cope with extreme weather.

Union RMT launched an “all-out fight” for the promised resources and investment on the coast-hugging line into Plymouth.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash suggested that without action the line could see a repeat of a disastrous two-month shut-down last winter.

The track was washed away completely in February as defences gave way during storms — prompting a vow from ministers to fund a solution.

Rail infrastructure body Network Rail estimated this summer that the price tag to beef up the existing line was £649 million.

An alternative inland route reopening old tracks would cost up to £7 billion.

But in a slippery performance in front of the Commons transport select committee earlier this week Mr McLoughlin revealed that just £40m had been earmarked so far — and no other cash was in the pipeline.

Instead he echoed loose promises made during Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last week to “look at” the options.

Mr Cash accused the Tories of a “complete and utter betrayal of the region.”

He said: “The government’s pledges on rail services in the south west, services which clearly need additional investment and development on a huge scale, have been exposed as pure political posturing.

“This shambles cannot be allowed to drag on any longer.”