The UK Government is holding Wales back by continuing to place restrictions on cross-border rail services.
Earlier this month I tabled a question to the Department for Transport asking why the UK Government will not allow Transport for Wales to run additional services to Bristol Temple Meads. In a response issued this week, Transport Minister Andrew Jones confirmed the reason for the restriction and that it would continue, saying that ‘capacity is limited in the Bristol area and, as well as additional services from Wales, local authorities in the Bristol area have been planning to upgrade Bristol local services for many years.’ He adds ‘Upgrade works for the Bristol area are currently being developed through the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline process. Until these upgrade works are completed, it is not possible to allow bids for unplanned additional train services’.
Many of my constituents travel to work in the Bristol area, and rely on rail services from Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction which have all too often been unreliable and overcrowded. With the need for greater capacity, commuters will rightly be asking why the new Wales and Borders franchise operator (Transport for Wales) is being held back from offering an optimum service for the many thousands of Welsh workers who travel to work across the border. The responsibility for this ultimately lies with Ministers in the Department for Transport, and as this most recent written response shows, South Wales clearly falls low on their list of priorities.