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Cross-border Transport Links

Volume 672: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2020

5. What assessment he has made of the adequacy of cross-border transport links between Wales and (a) Reading, (b) Farnborough, (c) Guildford and (d) Gatwick Airport. (900900)

Earlier this week, we announced 2,000 extra weekday seats on CrossCountry trains between Cardiff and the midlands. We have already reduced journey times by 14 minutes on the Great Western main line between Swansea and London, and connectivity to north Wales will benefit from the introduction of HS2, which will shorten journey times and drive economic growth throughout the region.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. As well as rail links—not just the ones he mentioned, but the offshoots from the Great Western line to Guildford and Gatwick—does he agree that to unleash Wales’ potential it will be critical to improve links between the M3 and M4, as Transport for the South East has recently recommended?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the importance of the road network, particularly the M4, to increasing economic productivity in Wales. I hope that Labour Members are aware of the importance of the M4 and will encourage the Welsh Labour Government to accept the borrowing made available to them to build the M4 relief road in south Wales.

The western rail link to Heathrow would really help people travelling from Heathrow to south Wales and could get passengers from Reading to Heathrow in less than 30 minutes, but progress has been badly delayed. When will the construction work on the line properly begin?

I am unable to say when exactly it will begin, but I can assure the hon. Member that it is our policy to make sure it begins. I fully recognise the importance of the links between Heathrow and Reading and the importance of that for the rail network across Wales, which will see £1.5 billion spent on it during control period 6. Overall, he will welcome the fact that we are making the biggest investment in our rail infrastructure in the country since Victorian times.