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Wales to receive less money to spend on transport ‘for decades’ thanks to HS2

22 Mar 2021 2 minutes Read
HS2 artists’ impression

The Welsh Government will receive less money to spend on transport “for decades” thanks to HS2, a report has said.

HS2 was designated as an England and Wales project despite the fact that no part of the track is included in Wales.

The decisions excluded Wales from receiving the additional funding that will flow to Scotland and Northern Ireland over the lifespan of the project, researchers at Cardiff University said.

“For the remainder of the HS2 project’s lifetime – likely to be several decades – the Welsh Government will now receive a much smaller share from any increase in the Department for Transport’s budget,” they said.

It was part of what they called “historic under-funding” that was “being baked into the system” in Wales.

The Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre report also reveals that railway infrastructure investment in Wales would have been significantly higher if it had been devolved.

‘Double whammy’

The report finds that under a fully devolved system, Wales could have received an extra £514m investment in its rail infrastructure between 2011-12 and 2019-20.

As well as perpetuating underinvestment in Wales’ rail infrastructure, the researchers warn the non-devolved system will also lead to a funding squeeze on the Welsh Government’s future budget.

These amounts can be compared to the cost of several major Welsh rail infrastructure projects that have been estimated by external sources, including:

  • The Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line (£620-775 million)
  • Electrification of the North Wales Coast mainline (£764 million)
  • Electrification of the South Wales mainline between Cardiff and Swansea (£433 million)

Wales Fiscal Analysis researcher, Guto Ifan, commented: “When it comes to the Welsh railways, the evidence is clear that funding would have been substantially higher under a fully devolved system – to the tune of £500m since 2011, when spending data for Wales was first made available. That funding over the course of eight years would have enabled significant improvement projects to take place.

“Wales is also set to lose out on transport funding when the Treasury next sets multi-year budgets, due to technical changes in Barnett formula calculations. This is a double whammy for Wales, with the historic under-funding being baked in to the system.

“It is now clear that only full devolution of rail infrastructure – similar to Scotland – will address the underfunding of Welsh railways.”

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