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Rail upgrade 'will boost Wales-England relations'

The UK Government’s decision on whether to upgrade South Wales’s railway line to London will be a test of its relationship with Wales, the First Minister has said.

The £1bn scheme, announced by the previous Labour government, would cut journey times between Swansea and the capital by 20 minutes through the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

According to Wales’ first minister Carwyn Jones, the relationship between the Westminster coalition and his administration would be enhanced by continuing with the plan.

This follows key decisions such as the cutting of the St Athan defence training scheme and uncertainty over the future of Welsh-language channel S4C being announced without the Assembly Government being previously informed.

A “positive statement” on electrification would help rebuild the respect agenda which David Cameron said he wanted with Cardiff when he came into office, Jones said.

He said: “Let’s see what happens with electrification. That, I think, to me is the big test.

“We know there were plans to electrify the main line as far as Swansea.

“Going as far as Bristol would be a calculated insult, in my view. Going as far as Cardiff would effectively isolate the communities to the west of Cardiff from future inter-city services.

“Let’s see. If they can deliver a London-Swansea electrified railway link, that would certainly help to alleviate the concern shared not only by this side of the chamber, but all the people of Wales.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • Electrifying the route to Wales would bring much needed investment to the South Wales region. I was shocked to hear that Wales is one of only 3 countries in Eurpoe not to have a single km of electrified railway, (Albania and Northern Ireland completing the trio). Having grown up the area surrounding Carmarthen and now working for the rail industry in London, I find it difficult to justify the 4.5 hours train journey home, longer than it would take to visit Glasgow or Edinburgh. The electrification of the line is long overdue!

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  • It would only cut rail journeys by 20 minutes. That isnt very much.... £1bn/20 mins = £50m/min, doesnt sound that good to me.

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  • Following substantial proof that HS2's business case just isn't credible, Philip Hammond nevertheless continues to state in public meetings that it doesn't need to be financially viable as it's in the "National Interest". And he has also said that he is not concerned about it destroying the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, presumably for the same reason.

    So why doesn't he offer Wales a high speed railway? Bound to be better value for money if he believes the myths in the HS2 Command Paper.

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