All of Westminster’s new rail projects announced earlier this week, described as being for “England and Wales”, are in England, Plaid Cymru has revealed.
A policy document published by the Westminster Government calls itself a “strategic vision” to deliver a “£47.9bn overhaul of the network in England and Wales” but makes no commitments at all for Wales.
The new projects announced for England they come following a decision by Westminster to U-turn on a commitment to electrify the Great Western Main Line all the way to Swansea.
The neglect was a direct result of Labour and Tory MPs blocking the devolution of rail infrastructure to Wales via the Wales Bill, Plaid Cymru said.
It was revealed earlier this year that the Wales & the Borders franchise made up 6% of the UK rail network but had only received 1% of Network Rail’s spending on improvements since 2011.
Plaid Cymru’s transport spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, called on Westminster to urgently transfer responsibility to the Welsh Government, “to allow Wales to rebuild itself”.
“Wales’s railways are in a dire state, and in desperate need of upgrading,” he said.
“Plaid Cymru has been shouting about this for far too long but the situation is serious. We are still joined only by Moldova and Albania as the only three countries in Europe who haven’t electrified their railways.
“Our creaking transport infrastructure is not only impacting on commuters but is also hampering productivity, damaging our economy and contributing to the depressed wages and standard of living across our country.”
‘Do it ourselves’
What was most frustrating was that Wales could upgrade its own railways, but wasn’t being allowed to do so, he said.
“This is not the case in Scotland – they can get on with building a transport network fit for the 21st century,” he said.
“Meanwhile the people of Wales have to put up with an overly congested, unreliable and inefficient service, powerless to turn the situation around.
“Welsh citizens pay tax just like English citizens, but we have to send our taxes to Westminster only for them to use it all on England-only projects like HS2 and Crossrail 2, and leave Wales behind.
“This is the result of the Labour Party working with the Tories to block the devolution of rail infrastructure in the Wales Bill.
“It was recommended by the Silk Commission, then vetoed by the Labour Party during the St David’s Day Process that led to the creation of the Wales Bill.
“The only way Wales will drag itself up off the bottom of the economic league table, is if we take responsibility and do it ourselves.
“Westminster-rule will never work for Wales so we have to demand the powers to invest in ourselves.”