Anglesey to Cardiff air service will not restart – money will go new rail stations
THE WELSH GOVERNMENT has announced that it will not be reinstating the £2.9 million a year airlink between Cardiff and Anglesey.
The Public Service Obligation (PSO) air service, which has been suspended since March 2020 due to the impacts of the COVID pandemic will not restart, following a decision by Welsh Ministers.
Instead of spending up to £2.9m each year to fund the air service, the Welsh Government will look to invest this saving in helping to deliver a package of measures to improve public transport services for north Wales including the development of new railway stations in Flintshire.
The Welsh Government said that “77% of the people who travelled on the air service used it for work purposes but changes in home working have now shifted working arrangements.”
Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said: “The pandemic has driven huge change to the way people work, with a reduction in business travel over the past few years.”
“We don’t think passenger levels will return to a level that makes this service viable economically or environmentally.”
“Instead we will invest the money saved from running the service into improving public transport in north Wales.”
“This will benefit more people and help us reach our Net Zero target by 2050”.
“The decision follows the outcome of an independent study commissioned by the Welsh Government into the carbon impact of the service on the environment.”
“The study showed the service had a more negative impact on the environment than any other form of travel between Ynys Mon and Cardiff, unless it was flying close to full capacity every day, which, given the significant reduction in business travel since the pandemic, would be very highly unlikely.”
The analysis also showed that despite common perceptions, the air service was not always the fastest link to Cardiff from north Wales, especially east of Bangor, where rail travel is actually faster, door-to-door.”
“The Welsh Government’s investment in new rail carriages, with Wi-Fi, comfortable workspaces and on-board catering, means that the Holyhead-Cardiff rail service now offers a much more attractive proposition for those who still need to travel on business between the north and the south.”
This decision follows the news yesterday that despite Wales being on track with our immediate climate targets, there is still much more that needs to be done.
“We need to achieve greater reductions in our emissions in the next decade than we’ve achieved over the course of the last three decades if we are to avert catastrophic climate change. It’s going to an uphill challenge and difficult choices will need to be confronted” Lee Waters added.
The Welsh Government has established a North Wales Transport Commission that has already begun looking at options to build more efficient, high-quality connections across and into north Wales, and the multi-million-pound Metro programme is pressing ahead.
Ministers have decided to use the £2.9m funding earmarked for the air-link to accelerate work on north-south connectivity within the North Wales Metro programme, including faster progress on the Holyhead Masterplan, Bangor Gateway and Wrexham Gateway, alongside work towards new station development at Broughton and Greenfield.
The plans also bring forward work to improve rail journey times and service between Holyhead and Cardiff and improve integration with other sustainable modes of travel along the route, to meet the Welsh Government’s ambitions for four trains per hour on the North Wales Main Line and easier, faster rail access to South Wales.
“These projects are essential steps on the path to ensuring that people can travel more easily and quickly between north and south Wales whilst helping to address the climate emergency.” The Welsh Government has said.
Commenting on the news, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS said:
“Whilst I understand some people will be frustrated with this news, I believe it is the right decision especially given around £3 million of taxpayer cash is used to prop the service up every year.”
“I despise any task that fritters away taxpayers’ hard-earned money and keeping this service going would have done just that.”
“It is, however, disappointing that Labour ministers have only now axed the airlink. Instead of wasting some £10m on the airlink, which hasn’t operated since the pandemic began, over the last three years, they should’ve taken decisive action and scrapped it as soon as it became a loss-making exercise.”
“The pandemic has drastically changed the way people work and with many now working from home the demand for the airlink simply isn’t there.
“It is vital Labour ministers now start heavily investing in transport infrastructure and connectivity in North Wales and make sure those affected by this decision aren’t losing out.”
πBy having the flights removed, I shall be keeping a very close eye on the Labour Government to ensure that they actually spend the money they are saving on improving transport links for local residents. ”
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