Sunday, 24 June 2012


In Scotland, Rail transport is seen as being a vital component of Scotland’s success, with improvements to the rail infrastructure being seen as important to helping to supporting economic growth, strengthening connections and providing sustainable alternatives to road and air travel. Here in Wales, if might as well be an afterthought.

The SNP Government has invested record levels in rail – opening 2 new passenger lines and 7 new stations; it has provided 38 new trains and increased train services by 10%. Since 2004 rail freight traffic has grown substantially and passenger numbers have increased by 30%.

At the moment, rail services in the UK are provided through a flawed (in my opinion) private sector model. The Scottish rail network is however, entirely funded by the Scottish government and Scottish Ministers, and despite this infrastructure of rail remains a reserved matter.

The SNP Government has several times written (as recently as February and May of this year) to UK Ministers, making clear that the Scottish Government could achieve better outcomes for Scottish passengers if Scotland had overall responsibility for rail. The UK Westminster Government has chosen not to respond to the repeated approaches from the SNP Government.

Last week the Scottish Government announced a £5 billion programme of investment in Scotland's railways (between 2014 and 2019), which will support the delivery of franchised passenger services and enable Network Rail to operate, maintain and enhance the network. The programme will also continue to deliver the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) and the Borders Railway project.

Here in Wales... the Labour in Wales Government will...hmm, argh, yes - the defining silence speaks volumes does it not. The only thing that the Labour in Wales Government has tried to do in the last year is to try to link the valleys electrification project with plans to electrify the main line all the way from London (Severn Tunnel) to Swansea.

This is of course is one way of avoiding having to do anything. Little else has been suggested or hinted at, the people of the Ebbw Valley and Newport may have to wait a long time before the final bit of the Ebbw Vale line to Newport is approved, let alone gets a start date.

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