Welsh rail plans
Welsh Assembly unveils South Wales scheme, but says lack of investment has harmed prospects for rail improvements.
THE Welsh Assembly claims the country’s rail network has suffered from underinvestment to the tune of £5.1 billion and views the planned Union Connectivity Review as an ideal way to enable more investment in Wales.
This Review, led by Network Rail Chairman Sir Peter Hendy CBE, will explore ways to improve connectivity throughout the UK ( RAIL 916).
“The UK Government has to demonstrate its sincerity to levelling up our country, by addressing their failure to invest fairly in Wales’s rail, broadband and aviation connectivity. It has refused to devolve these powers and funding, while also failing to take our connectivity seriously,” said Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales.
In a document showing its calculations, the Welsh Government explained that using the Barnett Consequential received in 2015 (£755 million, related to an increase in the Department for Transport’s budget for the period to 2019), the total UK Government rail enhancement spend in Wales from 2001-29 is around £2.2bn. It claimed to have spent (or to be committed to spending) some £1bn on rail itself.
The statement added: “As a
comparator, the apportionment of total UK spend from 2001 to 2029 to enhancements in Wales on the basis of a population allocation (~5%) would be approximately £5.1bn, or on the basis of route length (11%) £10.2bn.”
It did acknowledge that Control Period 5 (2014-19) has been more beneficial due to the electrification of the Great Western Main Line to Cardiff Central (although it was originally due to reach Swansea).
However, it added: “Projecting known commitments for the period from 2019 to 2029, we estimate shortfalls of between £2.4bn and £5.1bn. This is based on £350m of UK Government enhancement investment (including part of Core Valley Lines and Cardiff Central), compared with at least £50bn across the UK in total.”
It also highlighted that while enhancement investment committed by UK Government is estimated at around £102bn until March 2029 (including HS2, the Trans-Pennine Upgrade and East West Rail), for Wales it was £1.44bn with nothing planned for Control Period 7 (April 2024-March 2029).
The document also claims that the industry’s forecasting approach has significantly overestimated demand for schemes in London by as much as 50%, while underestimating demand for elsewhere in the UK (including Wales) by the same figure.