Plaid vow to end Westminster’s ‘Great Train Robbery’ and create national rail network for Wales
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has today vowed to end Westminster’s “Great Welsh Train Robbery” by investing in creating Wales’s first truly national rail network.
Adam Price hit out at the UK Government’s chronic underinvestment in the Welsh rail network, citing the injustice of Welsh taxpayers footing the bill for England-only projects such as HS2.
The Plaid leader outlined how a national rail network would link major populations such as Bangor and Carmarthen along the west coast, as well as ensure main lines in the north and south, and across central Wales.
Using existing, new and reinstated lines a Plaid Cymru government will also deliver a Valleys CrossRail, connecting Treherbert in the Rhondda to Pontypool, via Pontypridd, Nelso, Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed, Blackwood, Newbridge, and Crumlin, he said.
A report by Cardiff University in March showed that infrastructure investment in Wales would have been significantly higher if it had been devolved.
The Welsh Government would receive less money to spend on transport “for decades” thanks to HS2, the report said.
“There is no comprehensive rail network connecting the different parts of Wales with north-south journeys having to be made through England,” Adam Price said.
“Whilst control of the main rail franchise has been in the hands of the Welsh government, the tracks and infrastructure remain a matter for Westminster which sees Network Rail making decisions on an England-and-Wales basis.
“As a result, Welsh taxpayers are footing the bill for costly projects such as HS2 which are not only set to be built entirely in England but also harmful to the Welsh economy as research shows.
“For as long as Westminster has some control over rail policy, the Great Welsh Train Robbery will roll on.
“This is why a Plaid Cymru government would seek full devolution, with adequate funding, for all rail services in Wales.”
Adam Price said that once all rail services are devolved, Plaid Cymru would task Transport for Wales with creating an all-Wales national rail network, connecting the north with the south and enabling rail traffic between the major centers of population.
“This would entail main lines in the north and south, a central Wales line linking Swansea, Llanelli and Shrewsbury, the Cambrian line linking Aberystwyth with Shrewsbury, and a new West Coast line, linking Carmarthen with Bangor and on to Amlwch,” he said.
“The Valleys CrossRail will provide a huge boost to business development, urban regeneration and housing as well as transport – directly benefiting a population of more than 250,000 people.
“We would also proceed with plans for metros for the south-east, north-east, Swansea Bay and the Western Valleys.
“This network will support transit-oriented development along its route so that economic development can flourish in the most sustainable and climate responsible way.
“All of this forms part of our vision for an independent Wales, free from Westminster’s constraints and able to truly connect our communities for the benefit of all our people.”
There is already a campaign in place, called Traws Link Cymru, to re-open a railway between Carmarthen and Bangor and in doing so reestablish a north-south rail link in Wales.
Traws Link Cymru was formed in 2013 with aim of reinstating the railway lines between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen, and Afon Wen and Bangor, both of which were closed to passengers under the 1960s Beeching Cuts.
Since then travelling between Carmarthen and Bangor has required a six-hour journey out of Wales and through Hereford, Shrewsbury and Crewe.
A feasibility study published by the Welsh Government in 2018 confirmed that reopening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth part of the route was technically feasible, but could cost as much as £750m.
Two years later Traws Link Cymru carried out their own study and claimed that the cost of reopening the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway could be reduced to around £620 million, 20% less than the Welsh Government’s £775m price tag.
It found that 97% of the original trackbed was clear and that reopening was a realistic prospect.