Welsh Government's commitment to South Wales Metro questioned

 

Two bodies have questioned the Welsh Government’s commitment to its much-vaunted South Wales Metro plan.

Cardiff CC officers have warned cabinet members of ‘continuing uncertainty regarding WG support for the city-wide Metro’ and as result have given only amber status to two Metro projects: rapid transit for the north-western suburbs and tram operation of the Cardiff Bay railway.

Officers said: ‘Welsh Government appears to be ready to proceed with a project delivery team. Continuing to press for an agreed programme.’

An Institute of Welsh Affairs report alleges a ‘growing sense of frustrated anticipation’ over Metro, with no substantial funding commitment or establishment of an implementation agency.

‘The degree of cross-departmental co-ordination required, the complexity of the administration required, the very large sums of money, surely requiring the use of private finance, and the probable need to delegate power to a dedicated executive agency, may be out of line with Welsh Government preferences to keep growth ambitions modest and low-key,’ says the IWA’s Economy Group, chaired by Gerald Holtham, who led the Holtham Commission on Welsh public financing.

It says Wales rules out substantial economic catch-up with the rest of Britain if it eschews projects of Metro’s scale.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: ‘We are already investing £77m in the first phase of the [Metro] scheme and further detailed work is well advanced to design and develop the next phase.

'Securing additional investment from the European Structural Fund and the private sector, together with the improvements to the Great Western Main Line and Valley Lines networks, will deliver what we believe will be first rate services for passengers in Wales.’

 

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