Welsh Assembly

Welsh Assembly

Monday, 9 August 2010

Back of the Queue please.....

While electrification arrive at the station on time (if at all)?

There are many serious problems facing the Wales of today.....

One of them you may think, is not the electrification of the South Wales Main Line. But you'd be wrong. The proposed 1 Billion pound investment would decrease journey times by a whopping 19 minutes, yet it is vitally important to Wales economic survival, let alone future growth in the Welsh economy. 

The South Wales Main Line (SWML) which goes from Swansea all the way to London is the main route in and out of South Wales. It comes as no surprise then that this main economic highway takes much of the business up and down to London (Global Economic Centre) and allows Wales to take some benefits from London prosperity. Or so you would think!

Presently, Wales has a huge 0% of its railway lines electrified. Scotland's rather pessimistic wikipedia article on Transport decries Scotland as having " Only 29% of the rail network in Scotland (by routes miles) is electrified, as opposed to 40% across Great Britain as a whole.". If that is below average then one could assume that England has an even higher percentage... So what happened to Wales?

Well after much ado, the Labour Government finally committed money to the electrification of this line, and all was looking rosy for Wales' economic competitiveness.... 

Then comes the tories...... but not like the old ones, these new trendy tories came equipped with all the rhetoric needed to sway votes (in England) into voting them in. For example, during the launch of the conservative manifesto in Prestatyn, David Cameron and the gang committed his party to electrification of the SWML. A lovely promise, which is now 'under review' by the coalition government. So what? Many things are 'under review'? indeed, however a look at what other projects have escaped 'review' and received firm commitments from the government cause doubts on our very own electrification....summed up nicely here in Rail News. Philip Hammond has assured that, a £1 Billion tart up of manchester and newcaste metros, £18 Billion Hih speed rail link and £18 Billion on the new CrossRail are assured.

So Why is this wrong? well, quite simply, Wales is the lowest performing country in the UK at the moment by a country mile. GVA is 75% on average of the UK average, and it gets worse...in this article by the BBC, a study by the influential Oxford Economics, Wales has the lowest projected growth out of the whole UK. So, against the backdrop of cuts and Dai Cameron's rhetoric of 'helping businesses grow outside of London', how can this cut be justified? Wales is clearly the victim of Tory apathy, or even worse the Conservatives are purposely ignoring the needs of South Wales in favour of more 'voter sympathetic' territory.

The Welsh Assembly hasn't got the power to change this, nor the finances. 300 Million short as it is, Wales cannot do what Scotland has done and create effective change from the one eyed London based decision making. A vote for Yes in the referendum will help this, but will not change the travesty that will be the unelectrified rail network in Wales, the last part of the UK without electrification and one of the last in western Europe.


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