Blaenau Gwent AM hits out over electrification
12:12pm Friday 21st March 2014 in News
THE AM for Blaenau Gwent has said that a disputed railway project is essential to increase the frequency of trains along the Ebbw Vale line.
A row has brewed over the last week between the UK and Welsh governments over rail electrification of the Valley lines and whether or not the latter is having to pay for the project.
Alun Davies, the environment minister in the Labour-led Welsh Government, said the project was always UK Government funded.
He said: “Why on earth would the Welsh Government agree to fund something that is not a devolved responsibility to Wales?
The Blaenau Gwent AM said that the project was “essential to increasing the frequency of trains along the Ebbw Valley track which has been a huge success in helping people get to and from Cardiff in order to find employment.
“The UK Government simply must honour their agreement and keep to their word.”
He said the Welsh Government has plans to capitalise on the success of the line and is working with regional transport body Sewta towards increasing the number of trains along the line and building a new passing loop to allow a further spur and station in Abertillery.
“But for the UK Government to suddenly turn around and say it has no intention of funding it [electrification] is ludicrous," Mr Davies added.
The row over rail electrification began on Monday when Carwyn Jones said he was worried that the UK Government’s commitment on funding electrification had drifted.
But David Jones, secretary of state for Wales, said he was shocked at the suggestion that the UK Government would pay for the entire cost of the project.
In the Assembly on Tuesday Mr Jones told AMs that there was “no agreement at any time that the Welsh Government should fund any of the electrification.”
He cited previous comments by prime minister David Cameron to the BBC that his government was putting money into electrification into the line to Swansea and the Valley lines.
Alun Davies has pushed for extra services to Cardiff on the Ebbw Valley line.
In 2012 he told the Argus he’d like to see a metro-style service on the line, saying a rail-link to Newport wasn’t in Blaenau Gwent’s best interests.
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