UK Government to create Wales Rail Board – which it will sit on
The UK Government is going to create a Wales Rail Board following advice from MPs.
It has partially accepted a recommendation from the Welsh Affairs Committee to establish the forum to deliver improvements for rail passengers in Wales.
The new Board will have director-level representation from the UK Government’s Department for Transport, the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, Network Rail, and other train operators serving passengers in Wales. The intention is for it to have its first meeting this calendar year.
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”.
During the inquiry the Committee was told that a joined-up and clearer approach is needed to unlock rail investment to drive improvements.
The Committee’s report, Railway Infrastructure in Wales, recommended the creation of a Wales Rail Board, “consisting of itself, the Welsh Government, Network Rail, the rail operators providing services in Wales, and Transport for Wales.
It added: “The Board would be tasked with identifying and developing a prioritised set of proposals for rail infrastructure improvement and investment in Wales”.
In response, the UK Government has said it recognises the potential benefits raised by the Committee and is proposing the creation of a senior-level Board with responsibilities including the development and delivery of railway enhancements.
Welsh Affairs Committee Chair, Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP, said: “The UK Government’s move to introduce a Wales Rail Board is very welcome news.
“We heard from numerous witnesses during our inquiry that more coordination is needed to drive investment and improvements, and I hope the Board will deliver this.
“It’s also very welcome the speed in which they will start convening, and I hope people across Wales will start feeling the benefits feed through to their railway journeys.”
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.”
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