Fair that Wales misses out on extra rail funding ‘because HS2 near Welsh border’ says Welsh Secretary
It’s fair that HS2 is classed as a Wales project and that Wales misses out on extra rail funding as a result because the high-speed train service will run near the Welsh border, the Welsh Secretary has said.
The UK Government has classed HS2 as an ‘England and Wales’ project meaning that Wales will not benefit in the same way as Scotland and Northern Ireland from additional rail funding as a result of the project.
A Cardiff University report found that if rail was devolved, Wales would have received an extra £514m investment in its rail infrastructure between 2011-12 and 2019-20 as a result of UK Government investment in HS2.
But speaking to Y Byd yn ei Le, the Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland defended the arrangement.
“HS2 runs to Crewe and Crewe will be a major transport hub,” he said.
“I think the settlement is absolutely fine. Crewe is within a few miles of north Wales, it’s going to be serving the people of north Wales brilliantly. There are plenty of projects that I’m focusing on that I want to see Wales get its fair share of money.
“I’ll be working hard on infrastructure projects in Wales, for Wales.”
Crewe station is 18.7 miles from the border of Wales at its nearest point near Holt.
Speaking at the start of the Welsh Conservative conference earlier this year, Andrew RT Davies had said that additional funding should now come to Wales.
“We’re making the case that Wales should receive its fair share of HS two spending,” he said in his speech.
“We believe that instead of banning roadbuilding like labour, we need to push on and build a modern and sustainable transport network of road and rail.
“That’s the way that we can bring our country closer together. and we can put up the sign that says Wales is open for business. Only that way we can attract the jobs we need to close Labour’s wage gap.”
But he said that it should go straight to Network Rail rather than the Welsh Government which would “squander and fritter it”.
“We’ve seen the comments this week about the Metro system going over budget and so I just think they’re incapable of delivering major infrastructure projects,” he told the Western Mail.
“And I think that that debate that discussion within the party will be robust but I hope that we come out the right side.”
In February, Wales’ First Minister slammed the UK Government’s “neglect” of rail infrastructure in Wales as “pathetic”. Labour have said that Wales faces missing out on £4.6 billion of funding overall.
However Levelling Up minister Michael Gove said Wales will “benefit significantly” due to HS2, Michel Gov.
“I do not think Wales loses out as a result of HS2,” he told the House of Commons. “I think north Wales in particular benefits significantly because of increased connectivity.”
Last year the cross-party Welsh Affairs committee called for the rail scheme to be reclassified as an ‘England only’ project.
“We recommend that HS2 should be reclassified as an England-only project,” it said. “Using the Barnett Formula, Wales’ funding settlement should be recalculated to apply an additional allocation based on the funding for HS2 in England.
“We suggest that such a reclassification would help to ensure that Welsh rail passengers receive the same advantage from investment in HS2 as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
HS2 is a high-speed railway that aims to improve links between London, the English midlands and the north of England with routes to Birmingham and Leeds.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.