Boris Johnson launches review to boost transport infrastructure between Wales and rest of UK

Credit: PA

An independent review into boosting transport infrastructure across Wales and the rest of the home nations is to be undertaken.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement on the first day of the Tory Party conference saying having the right transport connections to support, sustain and strengthen communities would help tackle regional disparities. 

The transport study will set out advice on a "wide range of possible options" to improve the quality and availability of links across the UK, Downing Street said.

The review comes after Mr Johnson, in a speech in July on how to kick-start the economy following the coronavirus pandemic, pledged #100 million on 29 road projects.

Downing St said the Hendy review will also look at the feasibility of various other options designed to boost links to Scotland and Wales, including improving major roads like the M$ and the A1.

Making the review announcement on Saturday, Mr Johnson said: "The United Kingdom is the greatest political partnership the world has ever seen and we need transport links between our nations that are as strong as our historic bonds."

Sir Peter, who ran London's transport network during the Olympics in 2012, said: "Improving links across the UK on the basis of the wider economic benefits that increased investment will deliver will be of benefit to everyone in the UK, and I'm thus very pleased to lead this work."

He is expected to publish his recommendations next summer.

The Welsh Government say they welcome the review but would still like full devolution of rail infrastructure powers. 

A spokesperson said: "The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales has written on numerous occasions to the Secretary of State for Transport calling for a level of investment in infrastructure enhancements seen in other parts of the UK. Our ambition is still for full devolution of rail infrastructure powers to the Welsh Government."

“We are pleased the UK Govt are pursuing a business case for investment in North Wales Coast mainline to improve speed and capacity, but we hope the review will also recommend significant investment in rail lines between Wrexham and Liverpool, which will serve as the spine of the North Wales Metro.”It comes after the Internal Market Bill was passed through Parliament.

It means a significant change to the current system which gives ministers in Cardiff the final say over projects such as an M4 relief road, but the UK Government insists that it wouldn’t mean overriding the wishes of people in Wales, because it would still need the support of Welsh MPs and local government.

It’s an example of a new relationship between the way the devolved governments of the UK will work which is set out in the UK Internal Market Bill. 

The Bill is designed to replace the European Union rules and regulations which currently shape the relationships of trade and investment here in Britain. 

Ministers in London have argued the new law is needed to ensure a "level playing field" for businesses in all four nations of the UK. They say it will "protect trade and jobs across the UK by preventing new burdens on business when the Transition Period ends."