In September 1840 Daniel Gooch wrote to Isambard Kingdom Brunel to make the case for Swindon to be the base for the Great Western Railway’s engine repair facility. Not long after, the Swindon Railway Works were born.

Now 178 years later, on 1st November 2018, we can mark another key development in our railway history. Because it is on this day that the Great Western main line is electrified in Swindon.

This is the culmination of years of work by Network Rail and will present great new opportunities for our town.

Faster, modern trains and journey times to London of just 45 minutes will bring instant benefits to the thousands of people who commute to the capital each day.

Beyond that, the newly-electrified line will bring more long-term gains.

Looking to the future our competitive edge also increases when you factor in Network Rail’s plans to build a 6.5km rail link connecting the Great Western main line and Heathrow. This will mean Swindon passengers can travel to Heathrow via Reading without having to change at Paddington.

These positive developments will continue to add to the economic strength of Swindon. We can expect more people to take a keen interest in our town and what we have to offer with our superb transport links, vibrant job market, house prices that compare favourably with our neighbours and our close proximity to stunning countryside.

Our economic growth will go hand in hand with our growth as a town. As more businesses relocate and grow in Swindon this will bring more people who will need more homes.

As a Council we are playing our part in helping to create vibrant and modern communities. We have an award-winning housing scheme in Tadpole Garden Village and just recently Council’s Cabinet agreed to extend the Joint Venture at Wichelstowe so that it now covers the canalside area of the development opposite Waitrose.

This means that the Council’s strategic partner Barratt Developments will use their expertise to deliver high quality housing along the canal and within easy access of first-class amenities.

Work to build the Wilts and Berks Canal, the Hall & Woodhouse pub and the new Deanery CE Academy are all moving forward.

We have also had great news for our personal finances this week. The government has announced an increase in the personal allowance which will represent an increase of £690 for a full time worker. In addition basic tax rate powers will benefit from an extra £1205 tax free income coming in a year earlier than planned.

There is good news for business too with the government announcing a reduction in business rates.

Swindon already has a great economy with a combination of small, medium and large businesses. The improvements to our infrastructure, housing and personal finances all give confidence and optimism for the future.