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Transport Infrastructure

Volume 573: debated on Wednesday 8 January 2014

This Government are investing more in transport infrastructure in Wales than any other in the last century, and Wales is set to benefit directly and indirectly from almost £2 billion of investment. I will be meeting my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport next week to see how we can take this investment further.

Like me, the Secretary of State is a regular user of the Holyhead branch of the west coast main line. The Department for Transport is setting up a taskforce to look at electrification of the line between Crewe and Chester. Does he agree that the taskforce should look beyond Chester and consider electrifying the north Wales main line?

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. The proposed hub for High Speed 2 at Crewe would considerably strengthen the case for electrification of the railway line beyond Crewe and, I would hope, as far as Holyhead.

One of the most important pieces of transport infrastructure for Wales is the Severn bridge. After decades, tolls have now gone up again: £6.40 for motorists, and double and treble that for vans and lorries. Is it not time to recognise, after all these decades, that this tax on the south Wales economy is a toll too far?

The hon. Gentleman will know that the franchise of Severn crossings will continue until 2017-18. After that, the maintenance of the bridge will have to be considered, but I know that the Department for Transport is keenly aware of the issues he raises.

14. Good transport links are essential to provide opportunities for investment into Wales. Will my right hon. Friend update the House on the discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on updating road and rail links into north Wales, especially upgrading the A55? (901776)

I have regular discussions with both the Welsh Government and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport on this issue. A business case is already being worked up, I hope, for electrification of the north Wales coast line, and I have already referred to the issue of roads.

When it comes to the Wrexham-Bidston line, the Secretary of State is all talk and no action. When can we expect some action?

It is rather rich of the hon. Gentleman to say that. In 13 years, his Government did absolutely nothing about that line. He should be aware that we already have a taskforce looking at this issue, and I hope the business case will be developed shortly.