MS blasts Sunak’s ‘empty promise’ on north Wales rail electrification
An MS has taken aim at the “empty promise” made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to electrify the North Wales Main Line.
Llyr Gruffydd MS, who represents north Wales in the Senedd, said the Prime Minister “can’t be trusted” to follow through on the £1bn pledge.
Speaking at the Tory conference this week, Mr Sunak announced he would scrap the northern leg of HS2 and instead invest “every single penny” on new transport projects in the north.
Of the £36bn earmarked for the high-speed rail project he said £1bn would be set aside to electrify the railway in north Wales.
The UK Government has already U-turned on its commitment to reopen the Leamside railway line, in the north of England, just 24 hours after making the announcement.
The government in Westminster has also previously promised to electrify the south Wales line between Cardiff and Swansea before scrapping it.
The Plaid Cymru politician also accused the UK Government of “plucking” the £1bn figure for the North Wales Main Line “out of thin air”.
Transport expert Prof Stuart Cole, from the University of South Wales has said it would cost at least £1.5bn to electrify the line.
Plaid Cymru has renewed its call for the UK Government to hand over the consequential funding from HS2 that Wales has been denied.
The announcement comes after years of controversy following a decision to classify the HS2 high speed line in England as an “England and Wales” project.
Opposition politicians have argued that the decision has effectively robbed Wales of billions in rail infrastructure investment that it would have received if HS2 had been classified as an England only project.
Scotland and Northern Ireland on the other hand have received billions of pounds of funding as a result of HS2.
Mr Gruffydd said: “The Tory government in Westminster has proven time and time again that it is completely untrustworthy. This is yet another empty promise by a desperate and duplicitous Prime Minister.
“The Tories repeatedly promised that the northern leg of HS2 would be built and we now all know how that ended up.
“We cannot believe a word the Conservatives have to say on electrification. They promised the electrification of the south Wales line between Cardiff and Swansea for years, before it was scrapped.”
He added: “HS2 isn’t just an England-only scheme, it’s a London-centric scheme. Wales should therefore receive full compensation for funding spent on the first phase so far, just as we did for Crossrail.
“The UK Government now needs to hand over to Wales the enormous amount money we are already owed from this failed project and it needs to do so sooner rather than later.
“The billions in funding that we’re rightly owed would transform our transport infrastructure, restore our bus services, and significantly improve north-south connectivity in our nation.
“The rushed way this proposal for north Wales was announced, without any development work, no details on timescales or actual costs, shows that they’re just making it up as they go along.
“The situation proves what Plaid Cymru has been saying for years that Westminster politicians can’t be trusted to act in the interest of Wales.
“This is why we need control of our own rail infrastructure in Wales as a matter of urgency.
“With Keir Starmer’s Labour Party in Westminster also refusing to commit to handing over the billions in HS2 funding that is our by rights it’s becoming clearer by the day that only Plaid Cymru speaks for Wales.”
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