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Swansea Station

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 4 March 2008

5. How much she has allocated for capital spending at Swansea railway station over the next five years; and if she will make a statement. (190976)

Swansea was included in the industry’s initial list of candidate stations for the national stations improvement programme. An updated list of candidate stations will be published as part of the April 2008 refresh of Network Rail’s strategic business plan.

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. He knows that I have been writing to him recently to make representations on the need for capital investment at Swansea railway station, which is, after all, the gateway to west Wales and an important mainline terminus. Can he assure me that he will do all he can to ensure that Swansea remains a candidate for those moneys, which, as the second city of Wales, it richly deserves?

My hon. Friend is right: she does indeed write to me frequently, on this issue and others—and correspondence from her is always welcome. She will be aware that one of the criteria for deciding which stations should be on the list of candidate stations is how successful Network Rail can expect to be in leveraging private sector money. I have no information about whether Swansea will remain on the list in April 2008, but she is doing exactly the right thing in making the case for Swansea, and I wish her every success in that.

I understand that the railway station concerned is some distance away from Wrexham—but perhaps the hon. Gentleman can try to ask his question.

Mr. Speaker, your knowledge of Wales is renowned across the land. I want to talk about capital investment in Welsh railway stations, if that is permissible. Capital investment in Welsh railway stations for disabled facilities has been made at Wrexham station, and I believe that Swansea railway station would also be eligible for such investment. Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that sustaining such capital investment is essential to ensuring a functioning and improving railway service, and what position does he believe we would be in if we had a Government who no longer contributed to such investment?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his ingenious question. Although Wrexham station has been allocated money under the Access for All programme, which has had a budget of £370 million over 10 years for improving accessibility at stations, my understanding—although I am prepared to be proved wrong on this—is that Swansea has so far not benefited from Access for All investment. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that unless we continued with a high level of investment in infrastructure, not only on the railways but at our stations, the record increase in patronage that we have seen over the past 10 years would, I fear, begin to take a downward turn.