1. The 160 mile border between Wales and England
is often described as "porous". This is understandable.
90% of the Welsh population lives within 50 miles of the English
border. 30% of the combined English and Welsh populationsome
16 million peoplelive within 50 miles of the border. As
a result, there is a huge degree of travel between England and
Wales throughout the year, be it commuters, business people, freight
or leisure seekers. Some 138 million journeys take place each
year on roads and trains across the border, an average of 2.6
million journeys each week.
These are primarily centred on two transport corridors between
South Wales and the South of England, and North Wales and North
2. The Welsh and English economies and geographies
are highly integrated and good transport connections to Englandparticularly
to London, Birmingham and the cities in the North Westare
extremely important for the Welsh economy. A variety of transport
groups, business and freight companies, as well as local government
representatives, told us in evidence that these roads and rail
routes were vital for Wales, for economic and commercial reasons.
Cross-border transport is also particularly important for tourism,
with the vast majority of tourists making overnight stays in Wales
coming from elsewhere in the UK.
As we noted in our previous Report on Inward Investment in
Wales, poor transport infrastructure can have a detrimental
effect on both domestic and overseas investment. We concluded
that transport infrastructure in Wales had been under-funded by
the UK Government and the Welsh Government for a number of years.
Key cross-border road and rail
3. The main road and rail routes between England
and Wales are:
- M4/M48: South Wales to Bristol/London;
- A55 and onward motorway links: North Wales to
- A55, A548 and A550: North East Wales to Cheshire/Merseyside;
- A483, A458, A44 and onward motorway links: Mid
Wales to Shrewsbury/Birmingham
- Great Western Main Line: London
and Bristol to Cardiff and Swansea (services currently operated
by First Group);
- North Wales Main Line: Crewe to Holyhead in North-West
Wales (Arriva Trains Wales and Virgin);
- "North and West" route: between Newport
and Shrewsbury, linking South Wales with Manchester and also facilitating
through-trains between North and South Wales (Arriva Trains Wales);
- Borderlands Line: Wrexham to Bidston (Arriva
- Cambrian Line: Birmingham and Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth
and Pwhelli (Arriva Trains Wales), and
- Chepstow route: South Wales to Cheltenham and
Birmingham (Arriva CrossCountry and Arriva Trains Wales).
A map showing the key transport infrastructure in
Wales, including cross-border road and rail links, is printed
on page 7.Map:
Key transport infrastructure in Wales
Source: Welsh Government
Responsibility for cross-border
4. Responsibility for cross-border transport
links between England and Wales is shared between the Department
for Transport (DfT), Welsh Government and local authorities.
5. For rail services:
- the DfT manages three cross-border rail franchises
between England and Wales and is also wholly responsible for funding
rail infrastructure improvements for both England and Wales, and
- the Welsh Government is responsible for specifying
and funding the Wales and Borders franchise which runs all services
wholly within Wales, in addition to several cross-border routes.
For the road network:
- the Highways Agency, acting on behalf of the
UK Government, is responsible for the motorways and main trunk
network in England;
- two trunk road agencies, acting on behalf of
the Welsh Government, are responsible for the motorway and main
trunk network in Wales, and
- local authorities are responsible for local roads
within their boundaries.
The UK Government provides funds for road improvements
in Wales only where a project crosses the border.
6. Our predecessor Committee held an inquiry
during the last Parliament into the cross-border provision of
road, rail and air transport between England and Wales.
The Committee called for electrification of cross-border rail
lines, and recommended that the DfT take ownership of strategic
responsibility for cross-border roads.
The Committee highlighted problems in co-ordination between the
Welsh and UK Governments, which could mean improvements to cross-border
links were held back because they were not priorities for either
the DfT or English local authorities.
7. To follow up on these issues, and to assess
new transport proposals that stand to affect Wales such as High
Speed Two (HS2), we launched an inquiry in March 2012 to investigate
the adequacy of cross-border road and rail links between England
and Wales. We received
28 written submissions, and held four oral evidence sessions,
including one in Aberystwyth, with regional transport groups,
freight and business representatives, Network Rail, the DfT and
the Welsh Government. We also visited the South Wales Rail Operating
Centre in Cardiff and the South Wales Road Traffic Management
Centre in Coryton. We were assisted by our specialist rail adviser
Richard Goldson, a former non-executive board member at the Office
of Rail Regulation.
We are grateful to all who have contributed to our inquiry.
1 National Rail Trends 2010-11, ORR and Ev w5 Back
'Tourism sector', Welsh Government, 17 July 2012 Back
Welsh Affairs Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2010-12, Inward
Investment in Wales, HC 854-i Back
The Committee decided to focus on road and rail links between
England and Wales for this inquiry. The National Assembly for
Wales recently published a report on international connectivity
through Welsh ports and airports in July 2012. Back
Welsh Affairs Committee, Tenth Report of Session 2008-09, Cross-border
provision of public services for Wales: Transport, HC 58 Back
Our terms of reference were to look at: the extent to which cross-border
public road and rail services are currently provided for and accessed
by the Welsh population; the arrangements currently in place to
co-ordinate cross-border road and rail transport service provision;
the potential impact on Wales of the plans for a High Speed 2
(HS2) Rail Service between London, the Midlands and North of England;
the funding of cross-border transport infrastructure, and the
progress made on improving co-ordination between the Welsh Government
and Department for Transport on cross-boundary issues and matters
of strategic importance. Back
Richard Goldson made declarations of interests which can be found
in the formal minutes of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Session
2012-2013, Appendix B. Back