Plans for the new Wales rail franchise include potentially cheaper alternatives to the present electrification scheme for the Valley lines.Read the full story ›
The Welsh Government has welcomed today's announcement of changes to Network Rail but says there should be no delay to plans to electrify the line from London to Swansea. A spokesperson says:
Yesterday the Prime Minister made clear his personal commitment to electrifying the main-line from London to Swansea. Therefore we would expect no slippage regarding this project, despite today’s news. The Welsh Government and the business community in Wales have been very clear about the economic case for electrification, and the Minister re-iterated this today in a constructive conversation with Claire Perry, the Under Secretary of State for Transport. The changes to Network Rail are welcome, we have been pressing for an overhaul of this organisation for some time.
Opposition parties are demanding that the Transport Minister confirms that the Great Western main line will still be electrified through to Swansea by 2018. Patrick McLoughlin told MPs that the project was a top priority and is going ahead when other electrification schemes are being "paused". But he told Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards that he'd have to write to him about the completion date.
Mr Edwards said he was "concerned by the ambiguity" of the minister's response. The Liberal Democrats' spokesperson in the Assembly says she'll also be writing to Patrick McLoughlin.
It would be completely unacceptable for Welsh passengers to have to wait any longer than they already have for these vital improvements. I am particularly concerned that the Transport Minister failed to properly give a firm delivery date. That simply isn’t good enough.
But the Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns has backed today's announcement.
I'm pleased to hear the strong commitment to south Wales electrification through to Swansea from the Transport Secretary today. This project will transform the lives of people in South Wales by attracting investors, linking businesses to suppliers and connecting people to jobs.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs that the electrification of the Great Western main line will be prioritised over other projects in the midlands and north of England as part of a crackdown on delays and rising costs at Network Rail. The state-owned company which controls the railway tracks is due to electrify the line from London to Swansea.
Electrification of the Great Western Line is a top priority and I want Network Rail to concentrate its efforts on getting that right.
On the Midland mainline better services can be delivered on that line before electrification. With things such as speed improvement works. So work on electrification will be paused.
The next franchise for the Transpennine route between Leeds and Manchester will bring modern trains and additional capacity. Current work on electrification will be paused because we need to be much more ambitious for that route.
The minister told Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards that the government remained committed to electrifying through to Swansea on schedule, though he couldn't confirm that meant by 2018. He did not mention the electrification of the Valley Lines, which will largely be funded through the Welsh Government.
David Cameron was shown the busiest section of railway in Wales, near Cardiff Central station, where the electrification of the Great Western main line and the Valleys lines will intersect.
The Prime Minister was shown round by Mark Langman of Network Rail Wales.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats say the decision to hand control of the Wales and borders rail franchise to the Welsh Government demonstrates their influence in the Westminster coalition. But Plaid Cymru say the railway track itself should have been brought under Welsh control.
Today's announcement is a landmark as it means decisions on Welsh train services will now be made in Wales. The fact that this power closer to the people of Wales shows just how strong the Liberal Democrat influence is in the Wales Office.
Until now, the Governments at either end of the M4 have been able to pass the buck between them over who is to blame when things go wrong. Now we will know absolutely where responsibility lies for making improvements to services and giving Wales the trains it deserves.
The Welsh Government have less than four years to decide what all of Wales needs now and in the future, run a franchise competition, select an operator and then ensure they have the trains they need to deliver decent services. This will be no mean feat, but with matters resolved and commuters knowing where to look for answers, our rail services will be properly accountable at last.
Eluned Parrott also said she was "absolutely delighted" that the Welsh and UK Governments had resolved the funding of Valleys lines electrification. Plaid Cymru's spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth also welcomed it as a "good step in the right direction" but said his party would continue to argue for complete Welsh control of the railway.
Plaid Cymru welcomes the devolution of the rail franchise. For the first time, Wales will be able to choose who operates its own railway. This is something that our party has underlined the importance of for several years. The current and next Welsh Governments now have an enormous challenge in planning and delivering the next franchise, but this is a challenge that we know can be reached.
Plaid Cymru believes this must lead to more areas of the country being opened up to rail services, and that work on this must begin as soon as possible.
Previous Secretaries of State appeared to want Wales to pay the full cost of Valley Lines electrification. They have rowed back on this and have reached a deal. The deal itself is a good step in the right direction but it still appears to leave control of rail infrastructure in the hands of Westminster. We would prefer to see both franchising and infrastructure in Welsh hands so that they can be planned together, and will continue to press on that issue.
The Welsh Conservatives have blamed a lack of attention to detail by Labour ministers when Valleys rail electrification was first announced for the row over money that put the entire project at risk. Originally the UK government expected the entire £460 million cost to be repaid by the Welsh Government, primarily by increasing train fares.
Under the new deal announced today the UK Government will contribute £230 million to the scheme, though the rest of the money will still have to be repaid.
This deal will have a hugely beneficial impact on the lives of tens of thousands. It is a massively important investment that puts Wales first, prioritises infrastructure and transport, and provides a hugely welcome boost for business.
Labour didn't electrify an inch of rail track – and their mistakes and lack of attention to detail led to the circumstances preceding today’s solution. In stark contrast - this announcement is the real action Wales needs.
I wholeheartedly welcome the hard work of Conservatives in Wales in securing a pivotal and life-changing deal for our communities. From Newport to Swansea and - crucially, into the Valleys - this is what the region needs to secure growth and move forward.
Network Rail say the go-ahead for rail electrification in the Valleys will mean a better train service and boost the Welsh economy.
Electrification will transform the railway in south Wales, making journeys faster, more reliable, greener and quieter. An electrified railway will also help support economic growth by creating jobs and boosting the supply chain when work is undertaken, as well as providing a building block for future growth. It will help reduce journey times and boost commuting opportunities, making Wales a better place to do business.
Arriva Trains Wales has responded to today's announcement that the UK Government will pay £230 million towards electrifying the Valley Lines.
Electrification will bring many benefits including quicker journey times, reduced running costs, lower carbon emissions and the replacement of the current rolling stock on this part of the network which is nearing forty years old.
This important investment builds on the huge growth we have already seen in Wales over the past 10 years and is a great recognition of the importance of rail services in Wales.