Printer Friendly

Rail projects across the whole UK must be given equal precedence; Western Mail.

* VERYONE is agreed that the electrification of major rail routes to and within Wales would be a significant boost to our economy.

It was good that the UK Government agreed to fund electrification as far as Cardiff, but the campaign continues to electrify the line as far as Swansea and other vital routes.

News that the cost of building a single new station in central London for the Crossrail route is equivalent to the cost of electrifying the Great Western mainline as far as Swansea should give us all pause for thought.

We are not, of course, suggesting that the Crossrail project is unworthy of investment.

But it is crucial to note that a comparison of the projects' respective business cases suggests that electrifying the mainline to Swansea would be comparatively of greater benefit. The same applies to the electrification of the Valleys lines.

That the UK Government is reluctant to spend the extra pounds 120m necessary to electrify all the required South Wales rail routes is more than unfortunate. It is a disgrace.

Those responsible for big infrastructure projects know that there are very significant cost benefits in ensuring that all aspects are rolled up together, rather than done piecemeal.

Leaving Swansea out of the equation would not make economic sense because any attempt to resurrect the Cardiff-Swansea element of the project in future could be prohibitively expensive. In the same way, it makes sense to include the Maesteg, Ebbw Vale and Vale of Glamorgan lines in a single electrification project.

If the UK Government is not prepared to fund the full extent of what is required, it must provide a coherent explanation why not. It is difficult, given the clear economic arguments in favour of electrifying the Welsh lines, to speculate on what such an argument may consist of - beyond the mantra of unavoidable public spending cuts to reduce the deficit.

But if such is the argument, we in Wales can point to the huge sums being invested in England's rail infrastructure, not simply in Crossrail, but also in HS2, the line ironically due to run through Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan's constituency. Why is it all right to spend very large sums of money on big rail projects in England, but not in Wales? If governments at any level are making crucial decisions, they should do so on the basis of evidence. The evidence in favour of electrifying these vital Welsh rail links is impossible to argue against - and we hope the UK Government has the good grace not to try.

One matter of serious concern is the apparent attempt by the coalition at Westminster to get the Welsh Government to pay towards electrification. As the Welsh Government points out, responsibility for funding such projects rests with Westminster. We hope this issue is resolved satisfactorily without further delay.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 26, 2012
Previous Article:Fury over pounds 1.1bn rail snub to Wales; STATION COSTS MORE THAN ELECTRIFYING MAIN LINE.
Next Article:RETRO REPORT; Tories put boot into Kinnock nuclear stance.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters