Saturday, 22 August 2009


The Westminster Government (especially) and the Plaid driven One Wales Government’s need to get more serious about developing integrated public transport for Monmouth constituency and beyond. Plaid in Monmouth has long called for improvements to existing services and facilities and a series of feasibility studies to investigate re-opening previously closed railways as has happened in Scotland.

As we face up to a future where cheap fuel will become a thing of the past, we need to ensure that all our communities have access to a reliable system of integrated public transport, at the heart of which should lie our long neglected rail network. The old excuses about a lack of funding are no longer acceptable; with Wales making up 5% of the population of the UK, and having made significant contributions to the exchequer over the years - we need 5% of the UK transport spend, and fully devolved control of our transport planning and our transport budget.

Some sort of half way house devolution is no longer acceptable, it will not work and it will not deliver (or even give us the chance to deliver) the changes and reforms that are necessary to fix the problems in our country. The botched and over complicated LCO system for creating legislation won't work even with a nominally Labour Government - whats going to happen when we face a Conservative Government that's hostile to any concept of devolution. The half devolved limbo state of governance, with all the best will in the world just will not work; Governance can no more be half devolved anymore than someone can be half free.

We need the appropriate powers to do the job as is the case in Scotland, where significant strides have been made to reopen, redevelop and build a coherent and integrated public transport system that will serve the people of Scotland well long into the future. If we are serious about integrated public transport then we are going to have to get serious about how we are going to develop and redevelop our public transport infrastructure. To make it work in Monmouth constituency we will need to develop real cross border partnerships with Local Authorities and interested groups in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, South Herefordshire and with neighbouring Local Authorities in the South East, and the Plaid driven One Wales Government.

Plaid Cymru, in Monmouth constituency has called for:

  • The transformation of Abergavenny and Chepstow railway stations into a true gateway to the towns, and the integration of local bus services with train arrivals.
  • A significant improvement in the facilities at Severn Tunnel Junction and Caldicot railway stations and the provision of secure parking facilities.
  • A feasibility study into the development of a Parkway Station at Little Mill - with secure parking facilities.
  • A feasibility study into the possibilities of re-opening the railway line from Little Mill to Usk and the development of a new railway station at Usk.
  • A feasibility study into the re-opening of the Wye Valley railway line to Monmouth. Such a development would provide a regular rail service to local residents and tourists removing the ever increasing traffic burden from already overcrowded roads.
  • The re-opening of Pontrilas Railway station (in south Herefordshire) for passenger traffic (and timber shipments).
  • A feasibility study into developing regional rail freight services, removing heavy Lorries from local roads as per the experimental transport of timber by rail.

The Transport (Wales) Act which came into effect in February 2006 gave the National Assembly powers to plan and co-ordinate an integrated transport system, some concrete steps have been taken with the reopening of the Ebbw Vale and Vale of Glamorgan lines, and other improvements are in the pipeline but more needs to done. In the meantime the rail companies have been busy increasing rail fares and attempting to reduce rail services, all with the tacit co-operation of the New Labour Government and the Department of transport (in London).

Such duplicity is no longer acceptable - it’s time for our government in Cardiff to take the long term view, to bite the bullet and actually put its money where its mouth is and work to redevelop our rail services, boost the development of rail freight and to co-ordinate rail and bus services across the whole of Wales. To do this effectively Wales needs to have full control of it's transport policy and transport budget devolved as quickly as possible.

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