M4 plan could spell "death knell" for valleys electrification, say environmental campaigners

South Wales Argus: Queuing traffic westbound on the M4 between J27 and J28 (5208029) Queuing traffic westbound on the M4 between J27 and J28 (5208029)

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners said the Welsh Government’s preferred M4 plan across the Gwent Levels could spell the “death knell” for valleys railways electrification.

Environmental coalition, the Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (Calm), believes that the proposal, if advanced, would end any hope of the £400 million electrification.

Following recent controversy over who will pay for the upgrade, the campaigners believe it could come down to a choice between the two.

Calm spokesman Gareth Clubb said: “If UK government ministers are to be believed, the Welsh Government has agreed to pay for electrification of the valleys line. But at the same time, Edwina Hart is pushing ahead with plans to build a hugely expensive, environmentally-destructive motorway through the Gwent Levels.

“The Welsh Government hasn’t got a bottomless pot of money for transport projects. At some point it’s going to have to make a choice.”

Calm has urged the government to strongly to consider an alternative M4 proposal from transport expert Professor Stuart Cole. The Blue Route, jointly published by the Institute for Welsh Affairs and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, proposes an alternative road that would cost £380 million rather than the planned £936 million project.

It proposes that a new dual carriageway would be built using the Southern Distributor Road and the former Steelworks Road on the eastern side of Newport.

Mr Clubb added: “The Welsh Government can invest in electrification of the valleys and make improvements to the M4 corridor. But it can only afford to do that if it adopts Professor Cole’s Blue Route, which can be delivered sooner and at a fraction of the cost. The Welsh Government’s preferred choice of a new stretch of M4 spells the death knell for electrification of the valleys lines.”

An outline business case for valleys rail electrification – written by the Welsh government in 2012 – estimates the cost at between £309m and £463m. Electrification of the commuter lines in and out of Cardiff is due to be completed between 2019 and 2024.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh government said: “CALM is wrong. This is not a case of 'either, or' as any M4 enhancement would need to be complementary with public transport improvements."

She added discussions were ongoing with the UK regarding the funding of Valleys line electrification and all responses to the M4 consultation, including any alternatives proposed, are being considered and an announcement is due in the summer.

Comments (1)

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12:34pm Fri 11 Apr 14

Good Job No Kids says...

Yet again we have "environmental campaigners" commenting on things that have a little knowledge of.

The electrification was never to be funded by central government and was to be funded by WG using their devolved borrowing powers. If Carwyn has misunderstood this take it up with him.

The M4 is happening like it or not, the wheels are already very much in motion with funding already secured.

The nonsense proposals for the A48 will not work so why waste £380m on it?

As a highways Engineer and cost consultant I believe that I'm in a much better position to pass judgement than CALM who only push their own agendas with very limited evidence in support of their claims.

Hopefully they'll find something else to whinge about soon, rather than undermine a project that will benefit hundreds of thousands of people and boost the regional economy at the same time.
Yet again we have "environmental campaigners" commenting on things that have a little knowledge of. The electrification was never to be funded by central government and was to be funded by WG using their devolved borrowing powers. If Carwyn has misunderstood this take it up with him. The M4 is happening like it or not, the wheels are already very much in motion with funding already secured. The nonsense proposals for the A48 will not work so why waste £380m on it? As a highways Engineer and cost consultant I believe that I'm in a much better position to pass judgement than CALM who only push their own agendas with very limited evidence in support of their claims. Hopefully they'll find something else to whinge about soon, rather than undermine a project that will benefit hundreds of thousands of people and boost the regional economy at the same time. Good Job No Kids
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