Welsh Government not giving ‘correct picture’ of UK Government rail investment in Wales claims minister
A UK Government minister has claimed that the Welsh Government is not giving a “correct picture” of the amount that is being invested in Wales’ rail network.
The Welsh Government has been critical of the UK Government’s lack of investment in Wales’ rail network, particularly the decision to deem HS2 an England and Wales project despite no part of it entering Wales.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Welsh Labour MP Geraint Davies asked The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Neil O’Brien, why Wales did not enjoy greater investment in its rail network.
“It takes three hours to get from London to Swansea; it takes three hours to get from London to Edinburgh,” Geraint Davies said.
“The reason is that only 1.5% of UK rail enhancement funding goes to Wales, even though it has 5% of the population and 11% of the railway lines.
“Will the Minister—with the support of the Secretary of State—urge the Treasury to provide funding as a share of HS2 to Wales on the same basis as it provides it to Scotland, given that HS2 is north-south, which would give us an extra £4.6 billion to level up and connect the Union?”
Neil O’Brien responded that the UK Government were invested £2 billion for Network Rail and £340 million for enhancements in Welsh rail from 2019 to 2024. They were also investing £30 million in the Global Centre of Rail Excellence at the head of the Dulais and Tawe Valleys, supporting about 120 jobs in Wales, he added.
“The 1% figure that the hon. Gentleman quotes is from a Welsh Government report, which looks only at a very small part of rail investment and does not give a correct picture of the wider investment in Wales that I described,” he said.
“HS2 will of course provide huge benefits to the people of north Wales, who will be connected much more rapidly to the rest of the country.”
Geraint Davies’ question comes after Mark Drakeford had slammed the UK Government’s “neglect” of rail infrastructure in Wales as “pathetic” last month.
The First Minister said that Wales was not treated fairly by the UK Government and added that calling HS2 an England and Wales project was “absolutely nonsensical”.
He was responding to a question in the Senedd by Labour MS Carolyn Thomas who asked what Wales’ could do to claim its £5bn share of investment it would be entitled to if HS2 was classified as an England-only project.
“Wales is treated anything but fairly when it comes to rail investment by the UK Government,” Mark Drakeford responded, adding that “Wales loses out on billions of pounds’ worth of investment.
“It is nonsensical—absolutely nonsensical—to claim that, because there is a new service from London to Birmingham, somehow that means Wales has had its fair share of that investment.
“Scotland, where comparability is conceded, will have £10 billion to invest in rail infrastructure in Scotland, every penny of which is being denied here to Wales.
“And all of that comes on top of a decade of neglect of investment in the infrastructure here in Wales.”