Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cardiff, Cardiff, Cardiff...

The plans for the revamp of Cardiff Central station are ambitious.  They are also likely to be very expensive.  It’s not a plan that I’d oppose in principle, but I don’t agree that it should be the next priority for the network rail investment programme.
I understood why electrifying the main line from Paddington to Swansea should be a top priority.  I can also understand why the lines running through the South Wales valley should be the second priority.  But there are still unelectrified lines in west and north of Wales, and I cannot understand why the scheme to electrify those is not being brought forward ahead of the revamp of Cardiff station.
I try to avoid falling prey to simplistic regional jealousies pitting one part of Wales gets another.  And given the concentration of population and employment in the south-east, the status of Cardiff as the capital, I can understand the logic of an electrification scheme which serves that area first.  It shouldn’t end there though, and a desire to avoid internal competition shouldn’t become an abject acceptance that all investment goes to one corner.
The comment made by the Institute of Directors (“If Cardiff is to compete with other cities in the UK and internationally for investment, then it really needs a train station that is as good as anything else”) sounded like a reprise of why we have to build the extra M4 around Newport, why we have to create a city region based on Cardiff, and why we have to build the Greater Cardiff Metro.  How many more things does Cardiff “need” because we will not get economic development without them, and when will Cardiff have ‘enough’ grand schemes to allow serious investment elsewhere in Wales?
It increasingly looks as though the answer is never – no sooner has one key problem been overcome then another one gets pushed to the fore.  There will always be another key obstacle to Cardiff's development which the rest of Wales will have to pay for, as funds are directed to that one corner of the country.
It’s hard to deny that Cardiff is receiving a substantial devolution dividend, but what about the rest of Wales?  Replicating the south-east bias of the UK was never anyone’s stated intention – yet that’s where we seem to be going.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Replicating the south-east bias of the UK was never anyone’s stated intention – yet that’s where we seem to be going.'

You seem shocked? I cannot understand why.

I live in north west Wales and and up here we do very little to benefit any other part of Wales. Indeed, we are merely a hefty burden upon the rest of the tax paying population. And with successive generations matters worsen.

Why do we deserve any more than we already get? Indeed, why do we deserve what we already get?

It's time people started to wake up and smell the coffee. Times are a'changing. If you can't, don't or won't you shouldn't expect much in return.