Plaid Cymru MS criticises ‘gaps’ in Swansea bay and west Wales metro scheme
A Plaid Cymru MS has criticised the “gaps in the maps” in the Swansea bay and west Wales metro project.
Sioned Williams, who is the regional Senedd member for South Wales West, said her party argues that the “metro programme would have to include rail or light rail to link western Valleys communities.”
She described the plans as “disappointing” during a debate in the Senedd, in which she asked the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, who is also responsible for transport, to “explain” why “there is no intention” to “develop and strengthen transportation links”.
The minister replied saying that he shares “her desire to see a south-west Wales metro” and that “there is work going on about doing long-term planning and mapping of where the metro could be developed”.
Sioned Williams said: “A fortnight ago, in declaring that a climate emergency meant that we need to change the way we travel, you published an update for the Swansea bay and west Wales metro, noting that 17 per cent of carbon emissions in Wales come from transport, and that we therefore need people to shift to more sustainable modes of transport.
“As part of the report published, there are maps of the proposed plans, and there are large gaps in those maps in terms of transport developments to serve the Swansea and Afan valleys particularly.
“Plaid Cymru has argued for some time for a south-west Wales metro, and we believe that a metro programme would have to include rail or light rail to link western Valleys communities.
“These gaps in the plans are therefore disappointing given the economic, green and social benefits, and therefore will the Deputy Minister explain why there is no intention, from what I can see, even in the longer term, to develop and strengthen transportation links in the Swansea and Afan valleys to help residents get easy access to transport in accordance with the founding principle of the Government’s transport strategy?”
Lee Waters replied: “I agree with that analysis. I absolutely share her desire to see a south-west Wales metro. I think the truth of it is that the Swansea bay metro, as we call it in shorthand, has been the least developed of the three metro schemes, and that’s partly because the Swansea bay city deal has not had a focus on transport in the way that the other city deals, city regions, have had.
“Some work was begun by the local authorities, which we’ve now asked Transport for Wales to take in-house to accelerate, and there is work going on about doing long-term planning and mapping of where the metro could be developed, and there is progress being made, and I can assure her that I’ve been chasing that since taking up the role.
“That is something that we need to accelerate as we see the corporate joint committees empowered from next year. It’s vital that they work with us and Transport for Wales to do more to fill those gaps on the map, because, if we are going to achieve the ambition of ‘Llwybr Newydd’ and if we are going to meet our climate change objectives, we absolutely have to see in south-west Wales what we are now seeing in Cardiff and the Valleys through the development of the metro, both in public transport, bus and rail, but also integration with active travel. So, there’s much more that we need to do in the south-west.”