North Wales transport infrastructure must not be allowed to be left behind. That is why I am leading a debate this week in the National Assembly calling for strong cross-party co-operation in supporting the case for north Wales electrification.
Following the announcement by the Coalition Government of its intention to electrify the South Wales Mainline, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Government to start work immediately on developing a business case that can then be submitted to the UK Department of Transport.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that all streams of investment must be explored, including the newly-established €50bn Connecting Europe Facility which aims to finance energy, communication infrastructure and transport links.
Electrification of the South Wales Main Line was delivered as a result of a concerted effort by civic society, politicians and academics to ensure that there was a robust business case. The campaign was cross-institution and cross-party and, as a result, a compelling case was created for electrification. It is now time to emulate that successful campaign in North Wales.
Figures clearly show that since the creation of the National Assembly, North Wales has suffered from a much slower rate of growth than the rest of Wales. There is a chance that, with the welcome economic boost that electrification in south Wales will bring, the north-south gap could be exacerbated. Electrification in north Wales is essential if we are not to be left behind.
An integrated and effective transport system is crucial if we are to get our economy moving in the right direction. Improved rail links will provide a much needed boost to the north Wales economy which is why the Welsh Labour Government must recongise this as a matter of priority.
The Welsh Labour Government’s National Transport Plan does not contain a single reference to north Wales electrification and sadly the Welsh Government does have a bit of a reputation for dragging its heels when it comes to making big decisions. We are therefore calling on the Minister to move this to the top of his agenda so that we can present a comprehensive business case as soon as possible to the UK Department of Transport.