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Welsh Conservative should ‘hang their heads in shame’ over rail funding

THE WELSH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have hit out at the Conservative Party after it emerged Wales is to miss out on yet another large pot of rail funding.

The anger follows the revelation that ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ will be classified by the Conservative UK Government as an England and Wales project.

Northern Powerhouse Rail is a project to connect northern cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Hull, York, Sheffield and Leeds with high-speed and improved rail, not a single meter of the track will be in Wales.

The project is expected to cost £17.2 billion. Under the Barnett Formula (the formula in which Welsh Government funding is calculated), Wales is meant to receive a proportional share of spending in England. In this case, if Northern Powerhouse Rail was classified as an England-only project Wales would receive around £1 billion in funding it could spend on public transport.

However, this is not the first time Wales has been short-changed by the Conservative Government with High Speed 2 (HS2) also being classed as an ‘England and Wales’ despite none of the line being located in Wales. This decision is estimated to have cost Wales £5 billion in lost funding that could have been spent on public transport.

This is despite the fact Scotland has been guaranteed consequential funding from HS2 that was estimated to be up to £10 billion.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “The latest development goes to show to Conservatives couldn’t care less about Wales and that Welsh Conservative MPs are utterly failing to do their job and stand up for their constituents.

“Welsh Conservative MPs should hang their heads in shame, this project very clearly is not ‘England and Wales’ and their lack of backbone is robbing Wales of vital investment that would not only better services for the public, but help to attract more businesses to Wales.

“Any Welsh person, whether they are in North, Mid or South Wales, will be able to tell you the abysmal state Welsh railways are.

“To deprive Wales of the funding needed to address these problems is to deprive Wales and its people of opportunity and potential for further development.

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“This sadly fits a long record for the Conservative Party, given they also cancelled the electrification of the South Wales rail lines, cancelled Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and deprived Wales of £1 billion in funding it would have received had we stayed in the EU.

“It seems if the Conservatives had a message for the Welsh electorate it would be – ‘you don’t matter to us’.”