Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Two governments off the rails?

It is likely that the next time both UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Welsh First Minister will be facing tricky questions from the opposition on just who promised to pay for the electrification of the Valleys line.

First Minister Carwyn Jones claims the UK government agreed it would fund the electrification of the London-Swansea main line and the Valleys lines.

But Welsh Secretary David Jones said that was not the agreed deal.

The UK government insists ministers in Cardiff agreed to bear the cost of electrifying the Valleys lines.
The main line upgrade from London Paddington to Cardiff is due to be completed by 2017, and extended to Swansea by 2018 at a cost of £850m.

In an interview with BBC Wales last October, Mr 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 now  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 says there will be 

"a specific access charge on the franchise to repay the infrastructure investment by Network Rail.

Clear I think not.

But if the Welsh government had agreed to pay for electrification of the valleys line  between 2019 and 2024.

triang hornby the freightmaster electric train set from triang trains
Probably the best we can expect is this running around Carwyn's Office
An outline business case for Valleys rail electrification - written by the Welsh government in 2012 - estimates the cost at between £309m and £463m. it is hard to think where unless it was given borrowing powers where it could find the money to pay for it.on existing budgets. Which
John Osmond emphasises in today's Click on Wales

It may well prove fortuitous for Plaid Cymru that they replaced their Transport spokesman Dafydd Elis Thomas as he seems to be a little to sympathetic to the Labour ruling group on the Assembly.

If this is a misunderstanding rather than one or both sides lying it still shows the limitations of Devolution where Wales is granted the equivalent of pocket money and at present cannot raise their own money and can only look on Westminster ability to pay for such grand projects as HS2 whilst the best it can afford is an Hormby train set.

1 comment:

Cibwr said...

so we miss out via the Barnett formula - we miss out with limited borrowing, we have to cut our budgets elsewhere to pay for major infrastructure which elsewhere is paid for by the UK government. We pay for cross rail and for our own rail improvements... sounds like we have a really bad deal all round.