Calls have been raised to use the recently-announced ‘Union Connectivity Review’ as an opportunity to address what the Welsh Government have conservatively estimated as a £2.4bn underfunding of the Welsh railways.
Ken Skates, the Welsh Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales said the report represented an opportunity to “put right” the UK Government’s approach to Welsh railways.
Launched by the UK Government, the ‘Union Connectivity Review’ is set to explore ways to improve connectivity between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It was important the review also respected the current devolution settlement and did not stray into matters which were outside of the responsibility of the Welsh Government, the Minister explained.
Where this red line on devolved responsibilities sits was outlined alongside ministerial counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The underfunding estimates raised by the Welsh Government – the document setting out the calculations for which has now been published – conservatively estimates underinvestment into Welsh railways from 2001-2029 sits at £2.4bn.
The true figure, it notes, could be as high as £5.1bn.
Mr Skates said: “The UK Government has to demonstrate its sincerity to levelling up our country by addressing their failure to invest fairly in Wales’s rail, broadband and aviation connectivity.
“It has refused to devolve these powers and funding, whilst also failing to take our connectivity seriously.
“The Union Connectivity Review is an opportunity for the UK Government to reflect on historic underinvestment and to focus on putting things right.”
Last week, the Welsh government published Llwybr Newydd, a new draft transport strategy pledging a major reduction in carbon emissions from the Welsh transport sector.
As part of the draft strategy, it incorporated a new sustainable transport hierarchy which would prioritise public transport over roads. Encouraging more people to move from personal use vehicles onto buses, trains and sustainable forms of travel is a key driving point for the Welsh Government’s transport vision going forward.