Welsh Labour Minister Ken Skates has hit out at Grant Shapps after the UK Transport Secretary wrongly claimed on BBC Any Questions that rail electrification was not his responsibility.
Speaking as a panellist on the Radio 4 show on Friday in Cardiff during a discussion item on rail electrification in Wales, the Conservative Secretary of State for Transport claimed that Welsh rail was not a UK Government responsibility and a matter for Transport for Wales and the Welsh government.
Day to day management of services on the Wales and Borders Rail franchise has been devolved to Wales since 2006, but rail infrastructure enhancements – including electrification to Swansea and of the North Wales mainline – is, and always has been, a UK government responsibility.
Ken Skates claimed the Tories were being disingenuous and pointed to the chronic underinvestment in Welsh railways over the last decade under the Tories.
Welsh Labour Transport Minister Ken Skates said:
“For a UK Government Transport Minister to brazenly claim that major upgrades to our railway infrastructure in Wales, including electrification, is not their responsibility is shocking.
They should stop telling half-truths and take responsibility for what they have haven’t done. It was the Tories that cancelled electrification to Swansea in 2017 and it has been the Tories who have done nothing to advance vital electrification of the North Wales mainline, either.
Grant Shapps claims to want to electrify the transport network in the UK because it’s safer and greener, but at the same time his own Tory government cuts vital projects in Wales. It’s disingenuous.
As the Welsh Labour government has made abundantly clear through a number of reports, the UK Conservative government have chronically underinvested in the Welsh railway network. We have 11% of the UKs track in Wales, 5% of the population, but get only get around 1-2% of investment. Crumbs from the table.
The Tories are playing a very dangerous game here. Failing to invest in large parts of the country outside the south-east of England is only making the problem of inequality worse. People feel like they aren’t getting a fair shake of the dice.
Only by having a UK Labour government can we put this right. In our manifesto Welsh Labour made clear it would work with a UK Labour government to invest in Welsh railways, take forward the vital Metro projects across different parts of our country and extend electrification in Wales.”