Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Two Governments Off the Rails.



Just what is going on with the planned upgrade to electrify the "Valleys Rail Network"?


It has apparently has been put at risk by the Welsh government,according to Welsh Secretary David Jones


His comments came amid a row between the Welsh and UK governments over which would pay for the project. continues.

The rail improvements planned will see the upgrade of the main line from London Paddington to Cardiff which is due to be completed by 2017, and extended to Swansea by 2018 at a cost of £850m.

And the electrification of the Valleys lines - the commuter lines in and out of Cardiff - is due to be completed between 2019 and 2024.

On Monday at a conference on infrastructure projects in Cardiff Mr Jones added:

 "I am seriously concerned their [Welsh government] stance is putting this transformational project at risk."

He said he had a paper trail showing that there was a deal that the UK government would pay for work on the Great Western mainline to Swansea and the Welsh government would pay for the valleys.

At the time First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed the UK government agreed it would fund the electrification of the London-Swansea main line and the Valleys lines.
But Mr Jones's response was that that was not the agreed deal and the UK government insisted ministers in Cardiff had agreed to bear the cost of electrifying the Valleys lines.
This story first came to light in March 
In an interview with BBC Wales in October 2013, Prime Minster 
David Cameron said:
 "It's this government that's putting the money into the electrification of the railway line all the way up to Swansea and, of course, the Valley lines."
However the Wales Office office points to an exchange of letters between then UK Transport Secretary Justine Greening and then Welsh Transport Minister Carl Sargeant.
In her letter on July 13 2012, Ms Greening hails "a deal which will be perhaps the most significant infrastructure announcement for Wales for many years".
Electrified services in the Valleys will be included in the Wales and Borders franchise, it says. The two governments are joint signatories of the franchise.
Her letter said there would be "a specific access charge on the franchise to repay the infrastructure investment by Network Rail".
In his reply Mr Sargeant confirms "our agreement as set out in your letter".
So nearly 5 Months later we are none the wiser as both Governments claim  that the other has agreed to pay for for it.
So we have two governments  agreeing that electrifying the valleys line is desirable ( Indeed esential)  but neither wants to pay for it.
Maybe we should consider how to include electrifying the valleys Line with the Cardiff Metro Plan?
Certainly we need a joint up approach to Transport needs in South East Wales Iideed Wales as a whole.
However t it is clear that whilst we may expect much talk from Labour in Cardif Bay and the Tories in Westminster we are unlikely to see any action..
Ten years from now we nothing will have happened but we still be getting palns fo improvement which will again not happen.
We can't go on like this we will continue to fal behind the rest of Europe unless we transform our infrastructure but it clear that the two major Parties are not capable of doing so. .

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