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Opinion

It’s time for the Senedd to unite to demand Wales’ fair share of HS2 funding

26 Apr 2023 4 minute read
HS2 Artist Impression

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru MS for North Wales

Wales’ creaking rail infrastructure is in desperate need of fresh investment.

It has been chronically and wilfully underfunded by Westminster for decades, and because of this the people of Wales aren’t getting the rail services they need or deserve.

Wherever you look there is evidence of neglect. We have far less rail electrification than any other part of the UK. Our rail infrastructure is so bad, that to get from Cardiff to Aberystwyth by train you need to go via England.

Therefore an injection of, oh let’s say £5bn, would come in very handy. It could be used to fund the South Wales and Swansea Bay metros, transform rail infrastructure in North Wales, and connect Aberystwyth and Swansea via train. Indeed, its impact would be transformative.

But the UK Government has decided to withhold precisely that amount from Wales, and it is doing so on the most absurd of pretexts. It will be splurging an eye-watering £96bn on the controversial HS2 rail project in England. Because of this, Scotland and Northern Ireland are receiving an enormous amount of consequential funding. By rights, Wales should get this consequential funding too.

But we’re not going to receive a penny of the money we are due because the UK Government has decided to define HS2 as an England and Wales project. This is despite the fact that not a solitary metre of track will be laid in Wales.

As it stands, Wales is the only nation in the UK not to see any benefit from HS2. Not only won’t this benefit Wales, but the UK Treasury’s own analysis suggests it will actively hurt our economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds a year. It’s an absolute scandal.

Clear pattern

This isn’t a one off either. It’s part of a clear pattern. This has been evidenced in a report by Cardiff University that found Wales would have received an extra £514m between 2011-12 and 2019-20, if it received funding under a population based share of the UK’s rail infrastructure spending.

The justifications wheeled out by Tory ministers for denying Wales HS2 funding belong in the realm of parody. The Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies has absurdly claimed: “It’s going to benefit Wales, it’s going to benefit people in North Wales who will benefit from better access at Crewe to London.”

If that wasn’t absurd enough to begin with, now even that fig leaf has been blown away after the UK Government announced that the Birmingham-Crewe and Crewe-Manchester sections of HS2 have been put on hold due to the spiralling cost of inflation. The project is now nothing more than a new line between London and Birmingham. Yet the UK Government persists with stubbornly refusing to disavow the risible fiction that HS2 is an England and Wales project.

But if you’re relying in an incoming Labour government to redress the situation, then think again. Keir Starmer has point blank refused to guarantee that as Prime Minister of the UK he would give Wales its fair share of HS2 funding. It is further proof, if any was needed, that whatever colour their rosette, Westminster politicians cannot be relied upon to do what’s right for Wales.

Speak up

That’s why it is incumbent on Members of the Senedd to speak up and to speak out. Plaid Cymru is going to be putting forward a simple and clear motion to the Senedd that states: “To propose that the Senedd: Calls on the UK Government to redesignate HS2 as an England-only project, and provide Wales with the resultant consequentials it is rightfully owed.”

The sheer injustice of the present situation is so stark that Welsh Labour and even the Welsh Tories have already began to signal a willingness to diverge from the Westminster line to which they ordinarily cling. Well now they will have a chance to put this on the record in our national parliament.

There is an opportunity for Members of the Senedd to put on a united front, to say loudly and clearly with one voice that this is not ok and it is not something we are willing to tolerate.

By doing so we can demonstrate unequivocally that Westminster is brazenly defying the democratic will of the people of Wales. We cannot sit idly by while our citizens are short-changed. We have to demand the infrastructure funding to which we’re entitled if we are going to put our rail services back on track.


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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
10 months ago

Maybe this injustice will be the catalyst the Welsh independence movement needs to really take off. Surely even ardent unionists in the Senedd will begin to realise that if they are truly representatives of people in Wales they can’t help them fully while we are tied to London. They owe it to their constituents to consider a better future independent of it. There should be no burying of heads in the ground or they don’t deserve to represent us.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Duggan
Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
10 months ago

It was always fatuous nonsense to claim that HS2 would benefit Wales. But the UK Government frequently demonstrates the ability to hold conflicting contentions simultaneously. Some facts are just too inconvenient, I guess. Anticipating eventual success with this excellent initiative by Llyr, which I hope will be supported by all members of the Senedd, we should not squander the funds. First, an independent Cymru will need to maintain its existing rail assets. Second, new investments should carried out at a sensible and sustainable scale. For example, heavy rail (HR) passenger services are not likely to be economic except on an… Read more »

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
10 months ago

The UK government are so blatantly saying total lies why don’t the Welsh government get off their knees and take them to the high court

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Jones

Probably because our pro union gov are part of the UK union, that provides us with so much, why spoil things by having court cases.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Jones

How about we learn our nations history, as then we’d all soon realise why Wales hasn’t the need to jump through the same hoops as Scotland or England. Unlike those two, who were legally joined. Wales wasn’t, therefore, all we need do is withdraw consent to see the English monarchs as head of state. And just like that, Wales would be independent.

Alwyn Evans
Alwyn Evans
10 months ago

Not only will there be no track laid in Wales but plans show clearly that the HS station north of Crewe has no direct connection to Crewe Station. So how are Welsh travellers meant to negotiate the journey from one station to the other? By taxi? Walk?

Hayden
Hayden
10 months ago

A rare window of opportunity, for all parties in the Senedd to stand together on this issue. Hope it comes about, pob lwc Llyr

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

They couldn’t unite over how long it takes butter to melt. Let alone anything Nationally Serious.

Rob
Rob
10 months ago

Wales does not get the same respect as the other nations because it is merely a political football between Labour and the Conservatives.

The Conservatives will do everything they can to frustrate and undermine the devolution process, so that they can then turn around and say that this is all Labour’s fault. Labour in Cardiff Bay will do the same & blame everything on the Tories

Its not like Scotland where the threat of independence is a worry to Westminster, or Northern Ireland where politics is more sensitive.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
10 months ago

We need a political awakening by the people of Wales. The Conservatives have never done anything to specific for the people’s of Wales. They deny us of our share of our money paid in taxation. They control our justice and policing system. They control our own sovereign parliament. The Labour Party refuse to take the measures that will stop this abuse. Why does anyone trust them ? We have our own party Plaid Cymru – The party of Wales: A fully Wales centred party. An all Wales party. The only party capable to address our own sovereign issues as a… Read more »

Andy Williams
10 months ago

HS2 is an England Wales project. Words fail me. Should I laugh or cry?

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
9 months ago

The statement ITS AN ENGLAND WALES PROJECT should be enough to show that the Tory English government is a Country of England because that is the way they think Now more than ever we need to get the Hell out of this country called the DISUNITED KINGDOM very shortly they will be coming for our Water I watched that tory P M this morning on the Welsh news say that H S 2 is English Welsh project which benefit will benefit Wales he insults us Scotland Northern Ireland have had a few billion to make for the money spent on… Read more »

Andy Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Dai Ponty

I wonder if Andrew RT Davies announced his opposition to this wonderful England-Wales project, that is HS2 to the Welsh Tories today, in-front of Sunak?

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