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Wales (Rail Planning Assessment)

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

The Welsh Assembly Government and the Department for Transport have published the Regional Planning Assessment for the railway in Wales (WRPA), the final document in the series of RPAs covering England and Wales.

Copies of the document have been placed in the Library of the House and can also be downloaded from the Department’s website at www.dft.gov.uk

The Wales RPA covers the whole of Wales and an area to the east of the border, including the Marches line which has an important role in north / south rail traffic for Wales. Key rail links into England are also included.

RPAs provide the link between regional spatial planning (including preparation of regional transport strategies) and planning for the railway by both Government and the rail industry, and are designed to inform the development of the Government’s strategy for the railway. They look at the challenges and options for development of the railway over the next 20 years, in the wider context of forecast change in population, the economy and travel behaviour.

An RPA does not commit the Government to specific proposals. Instead it sets out the Government’s current thinking on how the railway might best be developed to allow wider planning objectives for a region or country to be met, and identifies the priorities for further development work.

The Secretary of State for Transport is responsible for specifying the infrastructure outputs which central Government want the railway to deliver in England and Wales, and the funding available, over a five-year period. As co-signatory to the Wales and Border franchise agreement with the Secretary of State, the Welsh Assembly Government are responsible for the financial and performance management of passenger services covered by the agreement and any enhancements to it. The Welsh Assembly Government are also working in partnership with Network Rail to fund enhancements to the railway infrastructure in Wales.