Welsh rail network has been ‘underfunded for years’
A TRANSPORT specialist has told the Welsh Affairs Committee that the rail network in Wales has been underfunded for a ‘long, long time’, and that the Valley lines had been particularly hard hit. Professor Mark Barry of Cardiff University is the architect of the South Wales Metro, but while giving evidence he accused the UK government of not giving Wales a ‘fair crack of the whip’. He explained: ‘To depreciate an asset, it underperforms. It costs more to run, it attracts less passengers and it requires more subsidies. Any business knows that if you depreciate your asset, it's not going to perform as well. There's a deficit to be made up.’ The Department for Transport has defended its recent record, and pointed out that Network Rail’s Wales budget for CP6 from now until 2014 is more than £1.5 billion. A spokesman added: ‘This investment will build a bigger, better railway for Wales, delivering improved journeys on the most advanced new trains. We are looking at ways to deliver journey time savings, committing to a West Wales Parkway station that could save up to 22 minutes for passengers travelling from west Wales to Cardiff, delivering better connectivity and increasing opportunities for the region. We have also committed £125 million towards the upgrade of the Valley lines as part of a wider contribution of £500 million to the Cardiff Capital Region Investment Fund.’
Victoria back in business
TRAIN services have returned to normal at London Victoria this morning, after a derailed engineering train blocked platforms 9 to 13 yesterday. The incident damaged the track, but the train was removed and repairs completed overnight. An investigation is under way into the accident, which happened in the small hours of yesterday morning. No injuries were reported, and no other train was involved.
Pacers still on the way out
RAIL minister Andrew Jones has moved to quell rumours that some Pacer units might have to stay in service after 31 December, when they would no longer meet accessibility standards. In response to a question from Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves on 9 July, he replied: ‘The first Pacers are due to be withdrawn from service in August and operators are working to remove all of them by the end of the year. No application for dispensations with regard to rail vehicle accessibility standards in respect of the Pacers operated by Northern has been submitted to the Department to date.’