Plans to electrify the Great Western Railway line between Cardiff along with also also Swansea have been scrapped, the UK’s transport secretary has said.
Chris Grayling told the Western Mail a faster journey between the cities would likely be achieved without the “needless disruption of engineering works”.
He said a fresh fleet of trains would likely be on the line via the autumn, with 130 extra seats per train.
The first minister said the news was “disturbing”.
- Rail electrification: Swansea council ‘angry’ at U-turn
- Rail electrification plans scrapped
Carwyn Jones tweeted: “Disturbing reports on rail electrification inside the media that will morning – waiting for the UK government to clarify.”
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood tweeted: “Wales gets 1% of rail investment despite producing up 6% of the UK network. along with also also right now that will.”
The party has right now tabled a motion inside the assembly condemning the move.
that will called on the government to reconsider, with South Wales West AM Dai Lloyd calling that will a “shameful climb down”.
Swansea council leader Rob Stewart said he was “angry” at the decision along with also also felt “betrayed” by the UK government.
While Neath Port Talbot council leader Rob Jones said that will was “a kick inside the teeth” for the region along with also also its businesses.
Network Rail can be working to deliver electrification between London along with also also Cardiff by December 2018.
producing the announcement, Mr Grayling committed to 40% more seats on rush-hour journeys between Swansea along with also also Cardiff.
He said the fresh trains would likely be bi-mode, meaning they could run on electrified sections of track along with also also then transfer to non-electrified sections.
A Great Western Railway spokesman welcomed the decision to upgrade the power of the trains in diesel mode, saying: “inside the context of today’s announcement, that will offers the best solution to protecting the kind of faster journey times, frequency along with also also capacity benefits customers have been looking for.”
Mr Grayling also announced:
- plans to improve journeys times along with also also connections between Swansea along with also also Cardiff, south Wales, Bristol along with also also London
- plans to improve journeys times along with also also connections across north Wales
- direct services via Pembroke Dock to London via Carmarthen on fresh Intercity Express trains
- station improvements at Cardiff along with also also Swansea
“The speed limit on the Swansea-Cardiff route can be such that will the fresh fleet of trains will be doing the route in exactly the same amount of time as they would likely be on a fully-electrified route,” he said.
“We will only electrify lines where that will provides a genuine benefit to passengers which cannot be achieved through additional technologies,” he added.
yet Wales’ Economy Secretary Ken Skates disputed that will claim, telling Radio Wales’ Great Morning Wales programme: “I don’t buy that will.”
He accused the UK government of “years of broken promises” along with also also said Mr Grayling had not responded to his requests for a meeting on the issue.
“I’m urging the UK government to clarify the situation immediately,” he added.
Professor of Transport for the University of South Wales Stuart Cole said the announcement could prevent companies investing in Swansea.
“that will affects its [Swansea’s] image… what people like Siemens, Mitsubishi or any of the international big investors will say can be ‘if the UK government aren’t prepared to invest in high tech for Swansea, why should we?’
“that will means that will Swansea won’t get the kind of modern railway technology which cities of its size elsewhere in western Europe have had for several years.”
Prof Cole added he believed the change of heart was down to mounting costs.
The Welsh Government said that will had long called on the UK government to electrify the line to Swansea, or instead give that will the powers along with also also the funding to do so.
A spokesman said: “The UK government has so far refused to devolve funding for rail infrastructure, as was recommended by the Commission on Devolution in Wales, so that will can be its duty to invest in Wales. Today’s reports inside the media are therefore disturbing.”