Call for greater Welsh rail funding

July 18 2018  

Call for greater Welsh rail funding
Wales receives much less than its fair share of railway investment from the UK Government, leaving the country with slow line speeds and outdated infrastructure, Welsh Assembly members were told this week.
Welsh Transport Secretary Ken Skates addressed the assembly on Tuesday, when he summarised the initial findings of an exercise to make the case for spending on rail infrastructure enhancements.
“Wales has not received an equitable share of UK rail investment over a sustained period, denying us the economic benefits enjoyed elsewhere in the UK,” he said. “Network Rail’s Wales Route, which makes up 11% of the network, has received little more than 1% of total spend on enhancements in England and Wales.”
“This has resulted in low line speeds on the South Wales Mainline, capacity and speed constraints along the North Wales Coast and infrequent commuter services for the Swansea Bay city region.”
Ken Skates’ speech to the assembly follows work carried out by Cardiff University’s Professor Mark Barry, who was appointed in May to lead on the case for greater rail investment in Wales against the backdrop of the £50Bn investment in High Speed 2.
His work highlights that the speed, number and quality of services are constrained by old, inefficient and unreliable infrastructure, with Victorian signalling and level crossings that frequently bring road traffic to a standstill.
“Long term under investment compared to the UK as a whole has left our railways unfit for purpose,” said Mark Barry. “This is a brake on our economic growth and on reducing air quality and carbon reduction.
“Wales needs to see the same levels of investment in its rail infrastructure commensurate with schemes like Crossrail, HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
The work shows that investment in a range of potential schemes in Wales could generate at least £2Bn in transport user benefits.
Schemes identified include line speed improvements from Severn Tunnel Junction to Swansea, new services linking Cardiff and Swansea with London and Bristol and a new dedicated Swansea Bay commuter rail network.
Modernisation of the North Wales Main Line is also urged from Crewe to Holyhead as well as faster long distance services serving the region’s key hubs.
(Photo: Network Rail)

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