Swansea rail electrification plan scrapped

The Great Western rail line is due to be electrified from London to South Wales Credit: PA, Ben Birchall

The electrification of the railway line between Cardiff and Swansea has been scrapped, the UK Government has announced.

Electrification of the stretch of line from London to Cardiff has already been delayed and ministers have been reluctant to specify a date for the scheme to reach Swansea despite earlier commitments.

Plaid Cymru has warned that if ministers renege on those commitments to electrify the line as far as Swansea there would be 'dire economic consequences' for Wales.

Meanwhile the Welsh Economy Secretary has called for the power and the funding over the scheme to be devolved to the Welsh Government.

On Monday the Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns wouldn't give me a date for electrification to Swansea despite my repeated questions.

He'd been visiting the Hitachi factory on the outskirts of Bristol where new hybrid electric/diesel trains are being made and he was keen to emphasise that the use of those new trains would mean the benefits of electrification in terms of faster journey times would be felt as soon as this year.

After delays to the project were announced in 2015, the UK Government said electrification of the line to Swansea was the 'top priority' although no completion date was confirmed. Alun Cairns, then a Wales Office minister, said this:

I reported at the time that Department for Transport sources confirmed the commitment to electrifying the line all the way to Swansea but noted that the UK Government was leaving wriggle room for further delays. Those delays could now turn into cancellation.

Plaid Cymru is warning of dire economic consequences of not completing the plans and is contrasting the uncertainty with action and funding for the controversial High Speed 2 project in England.

Welsh Economy Secretary Ken Skates says if the UK Government won't do it, the Welsh Government should be given the power and the funding to finish the job.