Now don’t get me wrong, I warmly welcome the news of the 12 priority (out of 46) stations announced today by the Labour in Wales government, which include:
· Cardiff: Ely Mill/Victoria Park
· Cardiff: Newport Road/Rover Way
· Cardiff: St Mellons
· Newport: Llanwern
· Swansea: Cockett
· Swansea: Landore
· St Clears
· Deeside Industrial Park/Northerm Gateway
· North Wrecsam
· South Wrecsam
· Bow Street
It’s certainly a step in the right direction, if one that is somewhat limited by a combination of a lack of ambition and the fact that the Conservative Westminster government consciously chose not to devolve any control of Network Rail in Wales to the National Assembly. This failure by Westminster to standing up or to even represent our national interests by giving us here in Wales the tools to do the job to improve our poor public transport system is nothing new.
While you would not have expected the Conservative Liberal Democrat government to strengthen devolution or protect Welsh interests because it was probably too busy privatizing everything that was not tied down. It is also worth remembering that the Party formerly known as New Labour also did not devolve control of that portion of Network rail to Cardiff when it controlled Westminster with a significant majority.
It is also worth remembering that the extension of the electrification of part of the Great Western line to Cardiff (originally it was Swansea) is only taking place because of the hard graft put in by Ieuan Wyn Jones, then Deputy First Minister in the Plaid driven One Wales Government. Originally it had been suggested that the electrification work on the Great Western would stop at Bristol and Wales would be left out of this plan entirely.
A glass half full is better than an empty glass, but, more locally there is significant room for improvement, and many local residents would welcome a public commitment to new railway stations at Magor, Caerleon / Ponthir and significant improvements to services and facilities at Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Cwmbran, Pontypool, and Severn tunnel Junction – including safe, secure, reasonably priced (if not free) parking. Not to mention a public commitment to actually reopening the Ebbw vale rail link to Newport.