Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage will tomorrow hold a House of Commons debate on rail links to the Portsmouth Harbour area. The local MP has long pushed the Government on transport issues in the South of England, calling numerous debates and inviting Ministers to her constituency on multiple occasions. While the "North-South" divide receives lots of attention from both press and politicians, the MP will argue that many parts of the South have suffered underinvestment for years - and sometimes lose out on the opportunity to realise their full potential because of "inaccurate and damaging" misconceptions of the region.
Due to speak in the House of Commons the MP will say that,
"We hear constantly about the North-South divide, too often forgetting those communities across the south who are really struggling. In my town of Gosport 19% of children live in poverty – and that number rises even higher to a staggering 32% for parts of Portsmouth.
London may be booming but that's not much use for people south of the capital if they are cut off from prosperity by poor transport links. Gosport is allegedly the largest town in the UK without a railway – and, once our commuters have crossed the harbour on the ferry to catch the train, it takes as long to get to London from Portsmouth as it does from Doncaster – a distance twice as far. When you arrive at Waterloo, the busiest station in the UK, you'll find as many people there in 3 hours every morning as fly from Heathrow every day.
As the south coast struggles with a transport system that is simply not fit for purpose it seems the rest of the country is receiving the investment it needs. It's imperative that we make sure that communities in the South aren't left behind."
The Hampshire MP is set to call for improvements in the speed and value for money of train services from Portsmouth to London; the expansion of Waterloo station to bring the four former Eurostar platforms back into service as quickly as possible; and a look at the options for a new track to replace the outdated London to Portsmouth link.