The lack of an electrified railway means Wales resembles a third world country, according to Cardiff Council’s Executive Member for Transport and Economic Development.
These comments come after a variety of Welsh politicians and business owners met in Westminster yesterday with the intention of persuading UK Government to fund the electrification of Welsh railways.
Councillor Neil McEvoy said: “The electrification is absolutely essential for the growth of Wales. We are already light-years away from the rest of Europe - there are only two countries in Europe without electrified railways, one is Moldova and the other is Wales. It’s almost third world-like.”
He added the numerous positive effects which would result from the electrification of railways throughout Wales provide a number of reasons why the UK Government must fund the project.
“The economic boost which would come as a result of improving our railways would be huge. Without it I can’t see how Wales can catch up with the rest of Europe,” Coun McEvoy said.
These are opinions which were echoed by Vaughan Gething, Welsh Assembley Member for Cardiff South and Penarth.
He said: “The electrification of the Welsh railways would mean much more efficient trains and more importantly an increased number of services, from around 4 to 6 an hour linking with the large cities in the UK. There would also be a more green train network as at the moment diesel makes much more pollution than would be made using an electric system.”
Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central, Eluned Parrott, was present at the Westminster lobbying attempts. She said: “What we have to be clear of is a successful economy needs to be able to move people and goods effectively. At the moment this is not the case.”
Mr Gething added: “Financially, Cardiff would be much better off due to the cost of maintaining electric trains being much cheaper than running services on diesel. The cost of diesel is unlikely to fall, so having more trains and running them on a cheaper alternative to diesel is vital.”
Conservative AM South West Wales, Byron Davies revealed the overall cost of the scheme would be £0.5bn pounds, but in his opinion this would be a small price to pay for the positive effects the electrification would have.
Mr Davies said: “It is about connecting the Valleys towns with Cardiff and other large cities in Wales. It would allow people from outside Cardiff to work in the city, which will boost the Welsh economy. The Government is keen to support the electrification but to do that we need to bring it down to Bridgend and Swansea. It is about getting young people to travel into Cardiff, this scheme would allow that and it can only help boost our economy.”
With a recent Great Britain Day Visits Survey revealing day trippers bring £2.9bn to the Welsh economy, an improved infrastructure would likely increase this figure further.
It is uncertain when the UK Government will make a decision regarding the electrification scheme.