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Rail Electrification (Welsh Valleys Lines)

Volume 551: debated on Thursday 18 October 2012

On 16 July, the Government announced the electrification of the Welsh Valleys lines and the line between Bridgend and Swansea. Under the plans, about two thirds of the population of Wales will be on an electrified train route. The cost of the projects is estimated at some £350 million and the work is expected to be undertaken between 2015 and 2019, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said.

Passenger numbers on the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line have gone through the carriage roof. Transport infrastructure is crucial in Blaenau Gwent, which again saw unemployment rise last month. Will the Minister ensure that the Welsh Government have the funds to redouble the line and improve train frequency and will he bring forward the 2019 date for the completion of electrification, to boost our economy?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that the answer that I have just given is a significant boost not only to the Welsh valleys, but to the main line from Cardiff to Swansea. It will create tremendous opportunities for regeneration for business and other passenger travel, and there will be the ancillary advantage of changes and improvements to the rolling stock once the project has been completed.

Having just received a speeding fine from South Wales police for going at 35 mph in a 30 mph zone—it was quite a shock for me this morning—the news about electrification and all the other good news that the Minister mentions greatly encourages me to use the railways in future.

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend. That just goes to show that the old adage is always the best adage: “Let the train take the strain”.