Jonathan's Herald Column - Wales Rail Investment Deficit

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One of the biggest failures of the State in the context of the British Government investment in transport infrastructure.

Wales, according to recent figures, receives about 1% of British investment in railways, although our population share is 5%, and our share of the network share much higher.

As a result, Wales is one of only three countries in Europe where not a single mile of the railway has been electrified - the other two being Moldova and Albania.

This week in Westminster the British Government published the final route for HS2. At the same time industry experts announced their expectation that the HS” rail cost will rise to over £100billion (£100,000,000,000) – the equivalent to over £400million per mile. This will be the most expensive railroad in history and in the world. Due to the centralised system of taxation in Britain, residents of Wales will be expected to pay for it.

The British Government has agreed to pay a fair share to the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland due to HS2. In the case of Wales, the London Treasury will not ensure full compensation. £100billion would be worth around £5billion to Wales – plenty of funding to modernise our rail and transport infrastructure.

At the same time the British Government has broken its pledge to electrify the line all the way to Swansea. It is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable situation to have broken the clear promise it made.

The result of not electrifying the line to Swansea, and to use hybrid trains along the line will be to increase the travel time between Cardiff and Swansea by 5 minutes. As someone who travels along the line consistently, most passengers commuting between towns in Welsh rather than traveling to London.

As an independent report KPGM states, HS2 will suck wealth out of the economy in South Wales to London and northern England cities. So the failure of the British Government to electrify to Swansea is totally inexcusable.

The only sensible solution to the situation is devolving responsibility for transport infrastructure and especially Network Rail.

This was a clear recommendation in the report of the Silk Commission, until the Labour party worked with the Welsh Conservatives to remove them from the Bill.

The reality is that Westminster is not working for Wales.


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