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London to Swansea rail electrification statement due

Category: England

Published: 1st Mar 2011 12:30:16

An announcement is expected later on electrifying the main rail line between London and south Wales.

The Welsh assembly government has been lobbying the Westminster coalition to electrify the Great Western line from Paddington to Swansea.

Sources have told the BBC a statement by the UK government may only give a firm commitment as far as Cardiff.

The assembly government says electrification would cut journey times and boost the economy.

A £1bn plan to electrify the line was announced by the previous Labour government in 2009.

Ministers in the assembly government have been pressing the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster to stick to the plan.

A decision on whether to electrify the line was postponed last November.

We have been absolutely clear we need electrification to Swansea.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said he could not confirm there would be a statement.

Electrification would mean that the journey time from Cardiff to London could fall from two hours five minutes to one hour 40mins.

Electric trains are also seen as cleaner and in the long term are cheaper to run, while bringing boosts to tourism and the wider economy in Wales.

Ministers in Cardiff Bay will be watching closely as to whether the announcement will involve electrification as far as Swansea.

At the cabinet's weekly press briefing in the Senedd, Environment Minister Jane Davidson said: "Obviously we have been arguing very, very strongly about the electrification of the mainline all the way through to Swansea."

She said electrifying the line was of "vital strategic importance" and would do more than cut journey times - it would benefit the economy, the environment and "international perceptions of Wales as a place to do business".

"That's what we hope for this afternoon," she said.

"We have been absolutely clear we need electrification to Swansea.

"That's the case we have put to the UK government and I hope the UK government will respond to that."

In a statement on Monday night, Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said he was continuing to press the UK government on the importance of the project.

"We are informed that the Department for Transport has not yet completed the final version of the business case, which we look forward to seeing once finished," he said.

"However I am greatly heartened by indications that there are very significant demonstrable benefits to the electrification of the entire route between Swansea and London and that a very positive business case can be made."

He said he wrote to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond last Friday to press him to finish its business case and "to make a positive decision on the electrification of the route between Swansea and London."

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BBC News, 2011. London to Swansea rail electrification statement due [Online] (Updated 1st Mar 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/134424/London-to-Swansea-rail-electrification-statement-due [Accessed 24th Jul 2014]

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