UK Government commits up to £1.5 billion to Welsh rail projects
The UK Government has announced it will invest up to £1.5 billion for several major rail projects across Wales following a review into UK transport links.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced on Thursday (7 December 2023) his response to Lord Hendy’s Union connectivity review which recommended improvements to transport to enhance quality of life and economic opportunities across the UK.
In October Rishi Sunak announced he was pulling the plug on the Northern leg of the multi-billion pound HS2 route which had been designated as an England and Wales project despite critisim that it would not benefit Wales.
Instead, the UK Government announced Network North, a £36 billion plan made up of a series of infrastructure schemes to replace HS2.
Responding to Lord Hendy’s report, the UK Government has now confirmed several major Welsh projects worth billions of pounds along with enhancements to overall connectivity between Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.
Alongside this, the UK Government committed to protect domestic air routes, as well a series of studies to explore options to improve rail travel in Wales and Northern Ireland and road travel in Scotland.
£1 billion of investment was committed to fund the electrification of the North Wales Main Line, bringing parts of North Wales within an hour of Manchester and bringing more punctual and reliable journeys on the 105-mile route between Crewe and Holyhead, with connections to Liverpool, Warrington and Wrexham.
Also announced was the delivery of the Midlands Rail Hub in full, with investment increased to £1.75 billion to improve journey times, increase capacity and boost frequency of services, benefitting those travelling between Cardiff and Birmingham.
The UK Government said this would include £2.7 million to Transport for Wales to develop options for upgrades to the South Wales Main Line, including new stations between Cardiff and the Severn Tunnel and increased services between Bristol and West Wales.
Another £700,000 was earmarked for Transport for Wales to study options for upgrading Shotton and Chester stations and increasing capacity on the North Wales Main Line.
Other measures announced included £8 million for Transport Scotland to prepare for upgrades to the A75 and £3.3 million to investigate Belfast-border railway electrification.
The UK Government said as outlined in Network North, some of these projects will be subject to business case approvals.
Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said: “We are committed to delivering growth opportunities across the United Kingdom.
“Today we are announcing support for projects that will boost connectivity and enhance transport connections across the UK. These projects will identify schemes that can bring economic benefits to people across the UK.
“I’d like to thank the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive for working collaboratively with us on these projects and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them on improving UK transport connectivity.”
Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies, said: “The UK government has invested millions directly in Wales’s transport infrastructure, speeding up journeys for travellers.
“Following the Hendy review, we are committed to making further significant improvements, leading to better-connected communities and greater opportunity for people across the country.
“The planned £1 billion electrification of the North Wales Main Line, £50 million for Cardiff Crossrail, £141 million for the Valley Lines and £11 million for the A4119 road upgrade are just some of the improvements the UK government is delivering in infrastructure in every part of Wales.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are considering the UK Government’s response to the Union Connectivity Review.”
“Given it’s taken the UK Government over two years to respond to their own report, we won’t be rushing to draw conclusions.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.