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Savings from electrification cancellation must be spent on Welsh transport network
Savings from electrification cancellation must be spent on Welsh transport network

Savings from electrification cancellation must be spent on Welsh transport network

The money saved following the cancellation of electrification between Swansea and Cardiff should be used to fund upgrades of the Welsh transport network.

This is the view of the Welsh Affairs Committee, whose report on electrification also calls for lessons to be learned to avoid spiralling costs in the future.

Cancelling the electrification project between Swansea and Cardiff will save the government at least £433 million, according to predictions.

The increase in these predicted costs – up from £156 million in 2012 to £433 million four years later – also highlight the need for the need to minimise the risk of a repeat in new schemes, and both Network Rail and the Department for Transport have indicated they will implement new approaches to work in future to avoid a repeat.

For the Welsh transport network, the electrification of the line wouldn’t deliver a significant improvement to journey times, and the Swansea to Cardiff route would have to be strengthened to allow electrification to have the desired effect.

However, considering Wales is home to 11% of the UK rail network, it only receives 1.5% of money spent on enhancements.

The straightening of the Swansea to Cardiff line could make electrification a possibility in future for the Welsh transport network. Other proposals have been mooted, such as the new Swansea Bay Metro route.

Regardless of the solution chosen, David T. C. Davies, Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, is unequivocal: the saved money should be spent in Wales.

He said: “We must now look forward from this point and work out how we can improve Welsh transport after decades of underinvestment.

“We have heard interesting proposals such as the Swansea Bay Metro, but it is essential that a full assessment on the state of the South Wales network is carried out, and any future plans properly costed and the true impact understood. We must put an end to grand infrastructure projects promising much and delivering little.

“It is calculated that the cancellation of the rail electrification between Cardiff and Swansea has saved the government hundreds of millions of pounds, and this money can’t simply go back into the pot.

“Wales cannot have the only stretch of the line not to be improved, then see the money go towards Crossrail 2 or the Northern Powerhouse.

“The money saved must be spent here in Wales.”

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