Transport minister: "I'm looking forward to working with Bristol mayor"
Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin was in Bristol today for David Cameron's Cabinet meeting - and afterwards met bosses from First Great Western and Network Rail at Temple Meads station.
The minister said that he is looking forward to working with the city’s first elected mayor.
He went on to say that the problems surrounding the tendering process for the Great Western franchise should be ironed out by the end of the year.
Mr McLoughlin said: “This is a fantastic facility and a fantastic station and there has been a big increase in demand for rail travel in recent years. It is fantastic that such a great city as Bristol is going to get a great city to match its aspirations.”
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The minister said he saw the new mayor as a vital role for the city in terms of transport and business.
He said: “It will be a great help for me to be able to speak to one individual voice in the city. The elected may will be one clear single voice that we will be able to speak to directly.
“The mayor will be a major voice for Bristol. When I want to speak to someone about transport I can go directly to Boris and hopefully it will work the same way in Bristol.”
The city has been awarded £130 million to help pay for a new Rapid Transit System but some of the of the candidates have voiced objections to the scheme.
However, Mr McLoughlin is said he is willing to talk directly to the new mayor on a number of issues. He did not rule out moving the cash to another scheme but added that he was keen to work with the new mayor as soon as the election has been settled.
The row over the West Coast Mainline franchise has left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the bidding to run train services between London and Bristol.
The bidding process has been put on hold after the Government was forced to admit it had made serious mistakes in the process.
Mr McLoughlin said: “We are holding a number of inquiries which are due to report by the end of the month. The hope is that once we have the findings then we will be able to continue in the bidding process.
“At the same time we want to make sure that Bristol and the south West will continue to get the train service it deserves.”