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Minster tells UK Government to ‘put right’ its £2.4bn ‘neglect’ of Welsh railways

23 Nov 2020 3 minutes Read
Ken Skates picture by Welsh Government. Transport for Wales train picture by Jeremy Segrott (CC BY 2.0).

A minister has warned the UK Government that it needs to “put right” its £2.4bn “neglect” of Welsh railways.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said that the Union Connectivity Review is an opportunity to address the matter.

He also warned the UK Government to butt out of matters which are the responsibility of the Welsh Government and expressed his frustration that it has nor devolved powers over funding.

The Union Connectivity Review was launched by the UK Government to explore ways to improve connectivity between Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

According to the Welsh Government’s calculations, under current spending plans, a conservative estimate of the underfunding of Welsh railways from 2001-2029 is £2.4bn, and this figure could be as high as £5.1bn.

Mr Skates said: “The UK Government has to demonstrate its sincerity to levelling up our country by addressing their failure to invest fairly in Wales’s rail, broadband and aviation connectivity.

“It has refused to devolve these powers and funding, whilst also failing to take our connectivity seriously. The Union Connectivity Review is an opportunity for the UK Government to reflect on historic underinvestment and to focus on putting things right.”

 

‘Pledge’

A document setting out the calculations has been published today. Another report which outlines how investment would benefit for north and south Wales mainlines (as part of Metro systems) has also been published.

Last week a new draft transport strategy pledging a major reduction in carbon emissions from the Welsh transport sector called Llwybr Newydd was published,

The strategy would prioritise public transport over roads. The need to get more people out of cars and onto buses, trains and sustainable forms of travel is a key driver of the Welsh Government’s vision for transport it says.

Grant Shapps MP, was the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Transport, said: “The review will make recommendations on how the UK government can level up transport infrastructure and improve connectivity between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, boosting access to opportunities and improving people’s everyday connections.

“The review will look at how the quality and availability of transport infrastructure between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can support quality of life in communities across the UK while also aiding economic recovery. This will in turn lead to recommendations on whether and how best to improve connections, and whether that includes the need to invest in additional infrastructure by the UK government.

“This announcement follows a recent pledge by the UK government to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects in the devolved nations – working with the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK government will identify opportunities for ‘spades in the ground’ ready projects to help build up communities and create jobs quicker for people across the United Kingdom.”

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