In Parliament this week I criticised the UK Government for failing to address the perennial underfunding of Welsh rail infrastructure.
Speaking in the debate on the Queen’s Speech, I said “The Queen’s Speech had very little to say for Wales and nothing to say about addressing the perennial underfunding of Welsh rail infrastructure. Welsh routes make up 11% of the UK network but receive only about 6% of UK rail funding. Cross-border services between Newport, Severn Tunnel junction and Bristol are of strategic importance to the economies of Wales and the south-west, and they need to be improved for the sake of passengers who are paying more and more just to get to work in the morning. I regularly receive complaints from constituents who have to make do with severely overcrowded short-formed services. I call again on the UK Government to allow the Welsh Government to develop new cross-border services. The current restrictions on their doing so are ill thought out and it is rail passengers who are paying the price.”
“Although I note the Government’s belated intention for new franchises to concentrate on performance and reliability, I ask them please not to forget the issue of rail fares. Passengers face a deeply unfair 2.8% increase in rail fares next January, and average fares are 40% higher than they were in 2010. If the Government are serious about climate change measures, forcing people off the railways due to cost and discomfort is not the right way to go about it. It is completely wrong that commuters are paying for services that are all too often overcrowded and unreliable. I support Labour’s sensible call to bring our railways back into public ownership, run for passengers not profit.”
Ultimately the Queen’s Speech this week was nothing more than a party political broadcast and a wish list that the Government have no means to deliver.