Wales demands £700m in rail compensation


The Welsh Government has demanded £700m from Westminster as compensation for halting the long-awaited Great Western Mainline electrification in South Wales.

Economy secretary Ken Skates demanded answers on how and when Welsh communities would see the money promised for electrification of the mainline to Swansea and called for it to be ringfenced and allocated to Welsh rail schemes.


He added that the ongoing discussions around handing powers over Welsh rail infrastructure to Welsh ministers should 'be progressed with immediate effect'.

In a letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling, Mr Skates wrote: 'I would welcome a commitment from you to ensure the estimated £700m funding that would have been provided to deliver electrification to Swansea is instead ring-fenced for projects in Wales. This must be in addition to a fair proportion of funding allocated to Wales for other rail enhancements in the future.'

He added: 'There was a commitment for £105m for the delivery of the Cardiff-Bridgend section of the Mainline electrification scheme, part of a wider investment estimated at £700m to electrify the line to Swansea.

'The scheme would have delivered important journey time, reliability, efficiency and emissions benefits, promoting economic growth across South Wales. For the UK Government to announce the cancellation of this scheme at this stage and through the press, with no prior warning, was hugely disappointing.'

Mr Skates complained that the announcement did not describe how the £105m promised would be allocated to the Welsh Government now that the Cardiff-Swansea scheme has been cancelled.

Mr Skates highlighted that while the Wales route area - covering Wales and part of England as well - has around 11% of the railway track, since 2011 it has only benefited from around 1.5% of the money spent by the UK Government on rail enhancements.

A DfT spokesperson said: 'Passengers expect high quality rail services and we are committed to electrification where it delivers benefits, but will also take advantage of new technology to improve journeys

'We are delivering dual electric and diesel trains so passengers can benefit from modern services more quickly, without the need for disruptive engineering works.'

They added that the whole route from London Paddington to Cardiff is due to be electrified by 2019. However the latest technology in the form of new bi-mode trains - diesel and electric - can help deliver similar benefits on this section sooner with new trains.


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