Thursday, 3 December 2015

Perhaps Wales is shrinking...

I don’t doubt the importance of the proposed Metro system for Cardiff and district.  And I can understand why its proponents and supporters are getting increasingly excited about the possibility of it coming to fruition.  But there is such a thing as hype.
The story on the subject in Monday’s Western Mail was a case in point – the printed version was headlined with the claim that it would be a “catalyst for transformation of Wales”.  It is, I suppose, possible that for some people Wales really is just that area around Cardiff bounded by Merthyr and Bridgend, but surely the First Minister should know better than to claim that an investment heavily geared to the needs of Cardiff and its hinterland can really transform “the economic and social prospects of … the country as a whole”?
Anyone making such a bold claim needs to be able to demonstrate exactly how putting such a high proportion of Wales’ transport investment into one corner of the country really delivers benefits to the rest.  It’s not that I doubt the value of transport infrastructure to those who benefit from it, but from a bit further west we’ve just heard that the electrification of the railway line to Swansea is to be delayed, and electrification even further west than that hasn’t even made it onto the agenda yet.
One of the driving forces behind demands for devolution to Wales has long been the perception that successive UK governments, of both colours, have favoured and prioritized investment in the South-east to the detriment of the rest of the UK.  Disappointment is an inadequate word to describe my reaction to seeing the same attitude becoming increasingly prevalent in Wales.

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