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.
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