Tory MS ‘fed up’ of hearing Westminster being blamed for transport issues
A Tory MS has said she is “fed up” with Westminster being blamed for Wales’ transport issues.
But Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar has criticised the Welsh Government for calling for power over rail infrastructure to be devolved.
She made the comments as she welcomed the news that the UK Government is going to create a Wales Rail Board.
The new board, which has been created following advice from MPs, will bring together the Department of Transport, the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, Network Rail, and other train operators with the aim of delivering improvements for passengers.
The Welsh Government has said it is still pushing for the “full devolution” of the rail network from Westminster in response to the move.
But it added that “irrespective of where responsibility rests in the short term” it that it supports the “need for close strategic collaboration”.
In response to the news, Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts has criticised the UK Government for “leaving us with crowded and unreliable trains that dawdle along old and crumbling tracks” and has called for a 10-year investment plan to address the situation.
She added that “Welsh rail will continue to be an afterthought” as long as the power over it is held by Westminster, and called for it to be fully devolved.
Natasha Asghar said: “Frankly, I am fed up with hearing ministers in Cardiff Bay blame Westminster for issues relating to transport.
“It is only by the two governments working together will we be able to build back better after the pandemic and ensure that Wales gets the investment we need, as well as better transport links and services.
“Commuters and tourists using our public transport network are regularly faced with overcrowded trains which often fail to turn up on time, so it is vital that action is taken promptly if we are to encourage more people out of private cars.
“Instead of calling for more powers to be devolved to Wales, the Welsh Government needs to work with the UK Government to level up the whole of Wales.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our long term objective continues to be the full devolution of the rail network and a fair funding settlement for rail infrastructure in Wales.
“However, irrespective of where responsibility rests in the short term, we support the need for close strategic collaboration to ensure infrastructure is delivered to meet passenger needs and our ambitions to encourage a shift towards public transport to support our decarbonisation commitments.”