A review of the electrification programme of the mainline between London and South Wales by Network Rail has placed in jeopardy the extension of that work from Cardiff to Swansea, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has said.
In a letter to Assembly Members today, Paul McMahon, Wales Route Managing Director for Network Rail has confirmed that electrification beyond Cardiff as far as Swansea is not now planned to be completed until the 2019-2024 control period with the specific date and costs still to be confirmed.
This is a major delay. Previously all the work was due to finish by 2019. Now only electrification as far as Cardiff will be completed by 2019.
“This is a major blow to Swansea and will significantly undermine efforts to attract business to the region,” said Mr. Black. “Not only will the route to Swansea now be seen as an add-on, reliant on hybrid electric-diesel trains for at least five years after 2019, but the fact that there is no clear costing for this work, no start date and no budget means that there is a very real threat that it will not happen at all.
“The UK Conservative Government has let down the Swansea Bay region in allowing work to slip in this way. There are also questions as to what exactly the Welsh Government knew as all of their work on developing the South Wales Metro has been focused around Cardiff, with little or no reference to lines further west.
“Tory Ministers need to step in now and ensure that funding is in place to bring this programme back on track so as to prevent Bridgend, Neath, Port Talbot and Swansea being seen as an afterthought.”