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Rail Projects

Volume 517: debated on Wednesday 3 November 2010

9. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on funding for cross-border rail infrastructure projects; and if she will make a statement. (20332)

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and I have regular meetings with ministerial colleagues to discuss a range of issues affecting Wales, including transport. We recognise that improved rail infrastructure is a vital component for delivering a successful economic recovery in Wales, and we are working hard with the rest of Government to ensure that this is achieved.

Given that the great western main line is one of the UK’s busiest, can the Secretary of State assure me that Labour’s commitment to electrify the line between Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea by 2017 will be honoured?

The hon. Gentleman knows that we recognise the importance of enhancing railway infrastructure to meet demand, and that is why the Government are investing £14 billion of the Department for Transport’s £30 billion budget over the next four years in the maintenance of our railways. There will be further announcements on railway investment, and I very much hope that all the representations that have been made on the electrification of that part of the railway will find favour with the Secretary of State for Transport.

Will the Secretary of State turn her attentions also to the transport infrastructure in mid-Wales and the train connection between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury? We have been waiting a long time for an hourly service and a direct service to London, which requires Assembly funding. Will she look sympathetically on the Assembly’s bids for funding for that train route?

I happen to have a meeting with the First Minister tomorrow, so I can assure my colleague that I will raise the matter with him. As he knows, the Welsh Assembly Government and Network Rail have invested £13 million in enhancing the Cambrian line from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury. That collaboration has led to a huge investment as part of the national stations improvement programme, which I hope my colleague will welcome.