Investment for our railways
At long last there will be a substantial investment in our railway line in the Vale and across South Wales.
Back in March I welcomed the news that the Secretary of State for Transport made that the UK government were to extend electrification of the line from London to Cardiff.
Over recent weeks I have met several times with Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport and her office, regarding the opportunities for electrification of the lines in Wales.
I have pressed the case for the Barry and the Vale lines each time and supported the electrification of the main line to Swansea as well as the Valleys lines, but not at the cost of the Vale line.
Wales is one of the few parts of Europe without a single yard of electrified railway. The only other nations in this situation are Moldova and Albania!
This fact demonstrates the under investment over the last 15 years or so. This fact made our calls for all lines to be electrified more difficult because of the sheer scale of funds necessary. Still, I wanted to ensure that the Vale line was not left out.
As readers of the Gem will be aware, earlier this week the announcement was made that the UK Government will electrify the rail network from Cardiff to Swansea, and this investment will include the Vale and the South Wales Valleys railways.
This announcement will see over £350million directly invested into the Welsh railway infrastructure. This is a monumental boost for the economy of South Wales. This additional investment follows the £1billion investment into the electrification of the Great Western Mainline from London to Cardiff.
Last week we heard the great news that there will also be a £500million investment into the western link to Heathrow, enabling passengers from South Wales to travel directly to Heathrow from Reading without having to first travel into Paddington. That’s a massive £2billion from the UK government programme to modernise the rail network that directly affects us here in the Vale.
It was disappointing that the Welsh Government hadn’t shared its business case with Welsh MPs of all parties in order to help co-ordinate an action plan to argue the case for electrification. I’m so pleased that the strong cost benefit analysis that we presented helped to secure these enormous benefits for South Wales in what is a very tough public spending climate.
Our railways in South Wales have been under-funded over the last 15 years, this substantial investment will help secure the economic regeneration and growth of Barry, the Vale and wider South Wales area. As anyone who travels regularly during peak time will be only too aware, the train is always packed on the Vale line. Our already crowded roads would be even busier and congested if this essential rail link doesn’t receive substantial investment.
The electrification of the lines will also reduce the long term operational costs of running the railway, bring environmental benefits and faster journeys for us all.