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UK Government investing 200 times more on rail infrastructure in England than Wales, transport expert says

22 Jul 2022 4 minute read
The new Stadler FLIRT. Picture by Transport for Wales.

The UK Government is investing 200 times more in rail infrastructure in England than Wales, a transport expert has said.

Rail infrastructure is not devolved to Wales, meaning that it depends on investment by the UK Government.

However according to Professor Mark Barry of Cardiff University, who has played a key role in the development of the South Wales Metro, the UK Government is now investing 200 times more in England’s rail network than Wales’.

The UK Government is currently investing over £70bn for HS2, over £10bn for the Trans Pennine Upgrade and nearly £20bn for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

In comparison, less than £500m is being invested in Wales, with £180m going on Phase 2 of improving the core valley lines as part of the South Wales Metro.

“So, the ratio between UK Government rail enhancement commitments in England vs Wales is approximately 200:1,” Mark Brary said. “I’ll repeat that – 200 to one!

“Compare that with the population ratio of approximately 20:1, and the route length just 10:1!” he added on his website.

“That is staggering and completely undefendable;  I suspect some politicians have fallen for the Father Ted ‘near/far’ illusion in trying to defend this situation!”

‘Unacceptable’

He also noted that both the HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail projects were defined by the UK Treasury as ‘England and Wales’ expenditure despite not including any developments within Wales itself.

A Cardiff University report found last year that if rail was devolved, Wales would have received an extra £514m investment in its rail infrastructure between 2011-12 and 2019-20 as a result of UK Government investment in HS2.

“Without being overly dramatic, Wales has and continues to lose out on £bns of necessary rail investment,” Prof. Mark Barry said.

“That broad brush ratio of UK Government rail enhancement investment commitments in England vs Wales of 200:1 is politically, constitutionally, economically and environmentally unacceptable.”

He added that “for me, levelling up has to seriously address long term allocation of capital funding for essential economic infrastructure like rail”.

“More broadly, in my view,  the current ‘levelling up’ mantra can only be realised with a major constitutional overhaul; it will never work if based on a little more cash being dispensed though politically compromised Westminster largesse,” he said.

“A handout economy and a handout constitution based entirely around Westminster and Whitehall, has not and can never really work for everyone and every place on this island, especially in Wales.”

‘Robust’

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies called in May for Wales to get its share of money from HS2 to invest in Wales’ rail infrastructure.

Speaking at the start of the Welsh Conservative conference, he said that additional funding should now come to Wales.

“We’re making the case that Wales should receive its fair share of HS two spending,” he said in his speech.

“We believe that instead of banning roadbuilding like labour, we need to push on and build a modern and sustainable transport network of road and rail.

“That’s the way that we can bring our country closer together. and we can put up the sign that says Wales is open for business. Only that way we can attract the jobs we need to close Labour’s wage gap.”

But he said that it should go straight to Network Rail rather than the Welsh Government which would “squander and fritter it”.

“We’ve seen the comments this week about the Metro system going over budget and so I just think they’re incapable of delivering major infrastructure projects,” he told the Western Mail.

“And I think that that debate that discussion within the party will be robust but I hope that we come out the right side.”


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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
21 days ago

The only way the rail network in Cymru will improve is through independence and the opportunity to do it ourselves. It is the only way. Forget England, forget Westminster and forget the warped colonialist policies – let’s just concentrate on getting out and creating a better future for our children.

Paul
Paul
21 days ago

ART Davies saying that because the South Wales Metro has gone over budget Welsh Government are incapable of delivering infrastructure projects… Just wait until he sees how much Crossrail and HS2 went over budget on the Conservative’s watch.

Erisian
Erisian
21 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Anybody know of any ‘UK’ Gov project coming in on time and budget?

Gareth
Gareth
20 days ago
Reply to  Erisian

Downing st parties.

Gareth
Gareth
21 days ago

The Tory party in England have made it blatantly clear to norther constituants of England, vote Tory you get money, vote Labour minimal spend, this has been said by mayors of both political parties there. They have no reason to spend in Cymru, and we all know it, just look at stats for levelling up funds.

Erisian
Erisian
21 days ago

Ho Hum.
Another day another snub to Wales.
Anyone surprised by any of this?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
21 days ago

Surely England isn’t feathering its own nest while plucking the hell out of Wales? No, not in this wonderful British Union where we all are equal. Levelling up is rejuvenating our communities like never before. Our infrastructure is world class We all receive a fair piece of the pie with the Shared Prosperity Fund. And if you believe that crap. The moon is made of cheese. Jacob Rees-Mog has a personality. And I have a picture of Margret Thatcher above my bedpost which I kiss every night..

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
21 days ago

I would tend to agree with all of today’s postings. However, we also need to remeber that of late rail investment in Wales has been concentrated on the Soth Wales Metro. That is a good and essential project but we should not forget that the rest of the country is not getting very much at all except for ongoing maintenance spending. That too is very welcome but with the Dragon of Climate Breakdown breathing down our necks there should be a great deal more investment in Welsh railways, not like the hugely expensive, high CO2 motorway and air link plans… Read more »

R W
R W
21 days ago

ARTD’s precious Tory Government in Westminster wasted £billions on PPE – which wasn’t fit for purpose – during the pandemic. Yet, this odious creep has the audacity to say that the Welsh Government would “squander and fritter” any money they were given towards improving rail infrastructure!! ARTD’s bare-faced cheek really knows no bounds.

Gareth
Gareth
20 days ago
Reply to  R W

How right you are, he complained about Cardiff airport and lack of access, then campaigned against road improvements, because they would be close to his farm hypocrisy at its best.

Evans
Evans
20 days ago

Lets just face facts the tory party do not give a dam about wales never have never will and to a certain extent neither do labour

Y. Cymro
Y. Cymro
20 days ago

devolved matter.
senedd also only giving below inflation pay rise to teachers.

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