Tweet My initial reaction when I read the part of today's story about the electrification of the mainline was a degree of outrage at the idea that the UK Government would ask the Assembly Government to pay part of the costs. But then I asked myself whether this expenditure is Barnettised or not - and I have to admit that I don't actually know the answer to that. If this is additional UK expenditure, over and above the existing transport budget, then the reaction stands; but if the expenditure is coming out of the English transport budget for which Wales has already had, or will be receiving, a Barnett share, then it it not entirely unreasonable for the UK Government to start talking to the Welsh Government about a contribution.
What is absolutely clear, though, is that asking the Welsh Government to pay a proportion is not a way of delivering the project for "less than the £1bn initially estimated", which seems to be the UK Government's starting point. Paying out of different pots is simply not the same thing as reducing the cost - and disingenuous is an understatement for the suggestion that it is.
I'm clear that there is a good case for electrification - greater reliability, lower maintenance costs, less pollution. It helps meet emissions targets (depending on how the electricity is generated), and it helps the switch from road to rail. And there's a good case for the timing; with the rolling stock needing replacement in the next few years, failure to electrify now condemns us to another 40 years of diesel powered railways. Electrifying the whole railway network as rapidly as possible is something which deserves support.
I'm not entirely convinced that 20 minutes off the journey time makes as much difference as some seem to suggest. Certainly I, like most other people, like to get from A to B as rapidly as possible, but when I was travelling fairly regularly from South Wales to London it was the lack of certainty about the arrival time which was much more of a concern to me. Having to catch a train an hour earlier 'just in case' is a real deterrent.
And I'd like to see research which indicates that this will have the massive impact on economic growth which some seem to imply - particularly if the Welsh Government is serious about switching its economic strategy to development of indigenous companies. I'm not suggesting that it won't have an impact, merely that the impact may have been somewhat exaggerated.
And we simply don't need to exaggerate or play the victim; the project stands up without that.
....so what's in it for Wales then? - Well, here we go again. It's traditional on days like these for the UK government to stress how much Wales is getting from the autumn statement, and for ...
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