Speaking in a debate on road congestion on the A40, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown highlights that part of the solution is to improve the railways and in particular calls for the full doubling of the Cotswold line right through from Moreton-in-Marsh to Oxford.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this issue. On that theme, does he agree that part of the solution to any road congestion is improving the railways? Some while ago, I got funding for the doubling of the Cotswold line from Moreton to Evesham. Is it not now imperative that we get full doubling right through from Moreton-in-Marsh to Oxford? That would take a significant burden off the A40.
Absolutely—I could not agree more. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. There are two ways of addressing road congestion: increasing the flow of the road—the furred artery, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) referred to it—and taking cars off the road wherever possible. My hon. Friend the Member for The Cotswolds (Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown) refers to redoubling the Cotswold line so we can have faster, more reliable and more frequent trains and take as many people off the A40 as possible. I feel particularly strongly about that—it is one of my pet projects—and I will refer to it again a little later.
Considerable growth is due to take place in Cheltenham, Gloucester, the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire. Does my hon. Friend agree that if we do not relieve congestion in what is a narrow throat, growth will be inhibited not only in Oxfordshire but in Gloucestershire, and further afield in Wales as well?
That is absolutely true. The focus tends to be on the Witney area, because that is where the A40 approaches the A44 and then joins the strategic network, but let us not forget the serious impact on communities further afield, such as the rural areas mentioned by the hon. Member for Strangford. I am thinking of the rest of Oxfordshire, of Cheltenham, and of rural communities elsewhere in Gloucestershire. This is a narrowing road that happens to reach a pinch point in my constituency, but affects the far wider areas represented by Members who have come to contribute to tonight’s debate.