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Fresh attempt to settle rail electrification row

New Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb turns to one of the items at the top of his in-tray today -the row between the Welsh and UK governments over who pays for the electrification of the Valley lines. Ministers in Cardiff Bay say Mr Crabb's predecessors, Cheryl Gillan and David Jones, were quick to claim the credit for the giving the multi-million pound project the go ahead, so there's no way that the bill should be passed on.

Today Mr Crabb will hold talks with this cabinet colleague, the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. The Transport Department argues that as the Welsh Government manages the Wales and Borders rail franchise, it should be responsible for repaying the cost. That would mean either funding a bigger subsidy or putting up the fares.

Only yesterday, the Prime Minister defended what he saw as a done deal but ITV news understands that there might at least be a concession over how quickly the money needs to be repaid. A senior Welsh Government source was also optimistic that the dispute could soon be settled.

First Minister willing to pay 'incidental' electrification costs

Following today's meeting between the Welsh and UK Governments in London, Carwyn Jones says he's willing 'to meet some of the incidental costs' of rail electrification in the South Wales Valleys.

But in a sign that this dispute is far from over, he told Political Editor Adrian Masters that 'we're not paying for the whole thing, there's no chance of that.'


'Produce that document' - First Minister's challenge

The First Minister has challenged the UK Government to publish documents it says prove the Welsh Government agreed to pay the costs of rail electrification in the South Wales Valleys.

Carwyn Jones was speaking to Political Editor Adrian Masters following a meeting in London of the Joint Ministerial Committee which brings together leaders of the devolved nations, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

  1. Adrian Masters

Two governments polarised over rail electrification

Both sides in the rail electrification costs row remain polarised, if you'll forgive the pun, after today's Joint Ministerial Council meeting. A Whitehall source said it seemed the First Minister had 'picked a fight to hide his embarrassment' about an agreement, the existence of which he disputes.

For his part Carwyn Jones has challenged the UK Government to produce any document which would prove a deal. Until now the correspondence has only been semi-leaked but I understand there are moves to try to publish it.

The First Minister says he'll consider paying for some 'incidental costs' but not the full costs. He also told Nick Clegg that one solution would be to devolve responsibility - and the funding - for rail to Wales immediately. Neither side show any signs of backing down.

  1. Adrian Masters

Electrification row expected at ministerial meeting

The First Minister is expected to raise the dispute over funding for rail electrification in the South Wales Valleys at a meeting in London. Carwyn Jones will attend a session of the Joint Ministerial Committee which brings together the UK Government with leaders of devolved governments.

These meetings, which are chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, take place regularly and usually cover a wide range of topics that are causing tension between the governments.

I'd be amazed if Carwyn Jones didn't seize the opportunity to return to the disagreement which has soured relations between ministers in Cardiff and London more than any other previous dispute.

  1. Adrian Masters

Osborne sparks further electrification costs row

On the day the Chancellor has insisted that the Welsh Government DID agree to share funding of rail electrification in the South Wales Valleys, opposition parties have kept up the pressure. Catch up with the background to this increasingly bitter row by clicking here.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said Carwyn Jones' government should be 'eating humble pie.' Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas feared that if the costs end up being met through increased ticket prices the 'Valleys Metro idea is out of the window.'

But the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams found cause for optimism in what she said was 'the more conciliatory tone' taken by the transport minister Edwina Hart. Ms Williams said she's hopeful a way forward can be found and said that would be

best achieved by going back and working with the UK Government rather than having a bloody great row between the First Minister and Prime Minister.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats


  1. Adrian Masters

Electrification row shocks UK Government

UK Government sources say they're 'shocked and concerned' at the First Minister's call for 'clarification' over who'll foot the bill for rail electrification. It's understood the dispute focusses on the Valley Lines, the Franchise for which is the Welsh Government's responsibility.

The UK Government says an exchange of letters from 2012 between the then Transport Minister Justine Greening and Carl Sargeant, who was then the Welsh minister responsible, shows the Welsh Government agreeing to bear initial costs of Valley Lines electrification.

The agreement would see those costs recovered from the Wales and Border Franchise. A UK Government source told me that the government 'is shocked and concerned that almost two years after agreement evidenced in writing the Welsh Government is seeking to deny that any such agreement was reached.'

First Minister 'concerned' about rail electrification bill

The First Minister says he's 'now concerned about the UK Government's intentions' over funding for electrification of the main London to South Wales railway line and the Valleys Lines.

Carwyn Jones said he still doesn't have confirmation from the UK Government that it will pay the full cost of electrification despite assurances from the Prime Minister and Welsh Secretary. He said ministers and officials continue to try to gain 'clarification' on the situation.

Deal struck for new Great Western line trains

A new train maintenance plant will be built in Swansea, after a £4.5billion deal for new intercity express trains was announced by the UK Government today.

Under the agreement, Agility Trains, a consortium led by Hitachi of Japan, will build 596 rail carriages at a new factory in County Durham.

The Intercity Express Programme (IEP) project will see the current fleet of Intercity 125 trains replaced.

On the Great Western Main Line from London to Swansea, the new trains will enter service in 2017.

The IEP deal follows last week's announcement of further electrification on the Great Western Main Line between London and Swansea.

Together, the new trains and infrastructure will offer the potential for journey time savings of 15 minutes in Swansea to London journeys.

A new train factory is fantastic news for Britain and will be welcomed by everyone who wants to see a thriving UK manufacturing sector.

– Transport Secretary Justine Greening
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