Investment in transport must bring benefits across the border

Plaid Cymru’s Transport spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has responded to the Government’s plans to extend the HS2 rail development to Manchester by insisting that investment in transport infrastructure must benefit the whole of the UK, not just England.

Mr Edwards, who has repeatedly raised concerns over the lack of investment in Welsh transport links in Parliament, said that Wales is owed a Barnett consequential of around £1.9bn from the projected HS2 spend and urged the Government to urgently review this unfair funding arrangements.

He pointed to the case of the Glasgow-London line that was electrified in 1974 to highlight how far behind Wales is in terms of improvements to transport links, adding that Plaid Cymru believes services in Wales should be in public ownership in order to better meet commuter and economic needs.

Mr Edwards said:

“The UK Government’s announcement of plans to extend the HS2 rail development northwards does little to change the fact that people in Wales will still be paying a huge price for improvements to services in England. While admittedly there would be potentially some improvements for north Wales commuters in terms of connectivity, trying to portray this as a UK-wide scheme is plainly ridiculous.

“For the Barnett formula to be applied correctly, England only projects must result in a consequential to the Welsh block grant. The last time I looked on a map, Manchester, Leeds and London were in England – which means that the Welsh share of the projected HS2 spend would be around £1.9bn.
“This sort of investment would bring about a much needed transformation in Wales’ transport infrastructure. The £1.9bn could ensure improved railway services across Wales as well as creating jobs within our communities.

“While the line from Glasgow to London was electrified as far back as 1974, there is currently not a single mile of public electrified railway in Wales, leaving us alongside Albania and Moldova at the bottom of the European table. Wales is running forty years late.

“We welcome the announcement to electrify the main line to Swansea and the Valleys line which we have campaigned for vigorously since the General Election; however, that was just a catch up. HS2 would make the South Wales economy less competitive as compared to the Midlands and Northern England, and the Government must urgently address why the people of Wales are footing a very large bill in exchange for very little benefit.

“Plaid Cymru also believes services in Wales should be in public ownership that would be better able to meet commuter and economic needs and where investment would be returned into the rail network and not put into the pockets of private investors.”

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