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Transport Connectivity

Volume 735: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2023

7. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on improving transport connectivity between south Wales and south-west England. (905722)

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues to discuss transport links between Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. I am pleased to say that the UK Government have recently provided £2.7 million to develop solutions to M4 congestion and deliver improvements to rail infrastructure.

My right hon. Friend will know that routes such as the A303 from the south-west to London have been upgraded to ease congestion and boost the economy, but for those travelling to Cardiff along the M4, delays and congestion persist. What are the barriers to getting the vital upgrades that that route needs?

I am afraid to say that the barrier is the Welsh Labour Government, who have decided that they will, as a matter of policy, end all new road-building projects in Wales, and, on top of that, bring in speed limits and road user charging. That is bad for jobs, bad for commuters and bad for the economy of Wales.

The Government have woefully underinvested in Welsh rail. The Burns commission and the union connectivity review all point to what the Government should do: upgrade the south Wales main line and build new stations, such as in Magor. When will the Government invest?

The hon. Lady makes an important point. There is a project, which is going through the business case process at the moment, to improve the freight lines on the south Wales line to enable passenger services to run on it. I believe that there will be announcements about that shortly, when the new rail network enhancements pipeline programme comes out.

Considering that not a single mile of High Speed 2 track will reach Wales, and that current services between Wales and England are woefully unreliable and expensive, what steps will the Secretary of State and the Government take to improve that and ensure that those living in Wales actually benefit from HS2?

The HS2 project, which was, of course, proposed by the last Labour Government and is supported, as far as I am aware, by the Labour Opposition, will benefit passengers in north Wales. The Government are committed to passengers across the whole of Wales, which is why £390 million has been spent on a range of improvements. In addition to that, we will shortly have the south Wales metro system, which is part of the Cardiff capital region growth deal.