Smart Transport

Welsh government calls for rail investment in transport review

Ken Skates

The Welsh government has said any transport review should be used as an opportunity to “put right” the UK government’s neglect of Welsh railways.

The Union Connectivity Review was launched by the UK government to explore ways to improve connectivity between Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Wales has already decided  to bring the Wales and Borders rail franchise under public control due to the dramatic falls in passengers numbers due to Covid-19.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales 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, while 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.”

The Minister has previously made clear that the review must respect the current devolution settlement "and not stray into matters which are the responsibility of the Welsh government".

This red line on devolved responsibilities was set out alongside Ministerial counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Welsh Government has calculated that under current spending plans, a "conservative estimate" of the underfunding of Welsh railways from 2001-2029 is £2.4 billion, and it said this figure could be as high as £5.1bn.

A document setting out the calculations has been published today.

Another report which outlines how investment would benefit for north and south Wales mainlines (as part of Metro systems) has also been published.

Last week Llwybr Newydd was published, a new draft transport strategy pledging a major reduction in carbon emissions from the Welsh transport sector.

It included a new sustainable transport hierarchy that would prioritise public transport over roads.

The need to get more people out of cars and onto buses, trains and sustainable forms of travel is a key driver of the Welsh Government’s vision for transport.

Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Keynote speakers included: 

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry

Keith Williams, co-author of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, who spoke on rail’s role in integrated transport, decarbonisation and innovation.

Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, who discussed the future of transport and its pivotal role in a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic.


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