Welsh Affairs Committee report recommends rail infrastructure upgrades
The Welsh Affairs Committee has released a report recommending urgent improvements in rail infrastructure across the region.
It has called for a new Wales Rail Board, including the UK and Welsh Governments, Network Rail, the rail operators providing services in Wales and Transport for Wales.
Recommended to be in place by autumn, the board will help in identifying upgrades and rail investments, including the improvement of Wales’ ageing rail network.
Being a Victorian system, the rail infrastructure in Wales is currently struggling to provide fast services and adequate stations for commuters.
Therefore, urgent advancements with sufficient investment are required to enhance the rail infrastructure, noted the Committee.
In addition, the report stated that Wales will not benefit from the Barnett consequentials resulting from the HS2 project in the same way as Northern Ireland and Scotland.
In a statement, the Welsh Affairs Committee said: “The Committee recommends that HS2 should be reclassified as an England only project. Using the Barnett formula, Wales’ funding settlement should be recalculated to apply an additional allocation based on the funding for HS2 in England.
“This would help to ensure that Welsh rail passengers receive the same advantage from investment in HS2 as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
The Committee noted that HS2 should incorporate improvements around Chester and Crewe stations in order to provide ‘direct benefits’ for Welsh rail commuters.
It urged the UK Government to work in collaboration with the Welsh Government to draft a plan for the improvement and electrification of the north Wales mainline.
The Welsh Affairs Committee further added: “Electrification of the railways can play a key role in the UK Government’s decarbonisation agenda, and the Committee has argued that the decision to cancel the electrification of the Great Western mainline from Cardiff to Swansea is short-sighted.”
Additionally, the UK Government needs to bring new proposals for improved connectivity between Swansea, Cardiff and Bristol, before the end of the year.
According to the Committee, completing the electrification of the mainline between Cardiff and Swansea could be incorporated into these proposals.
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