Crossing the border: road and rail links between England and Wales - Welsh Affairs Committee Contents


5  Conclusion

89.  By definition responsibility for cross-border road and rail is shared between English and Welsh authorities. Historically this has made it difficult to establish and deliver clear strategic goals for their development. We believe this has meant road and rail routes between England and Wales have sometimes suffered from neglect.

90.  Our inquiry has shown some encouraging recent examples of good co-ordination between the UK and Welsh Governments to secure improvements to cross-border routes, most notably with the electrification of the Great Western Main Line (GWML) from London to Swansea. There have been several other welcome developments on rail investment, such as the planned new link from the GWML to Heathrow Airport and the efforts to develop a business case for the electrification of cross-border rail routes in North Wales. Each of these rail projects—if advanced—would be a significant boon for the Welsh economy.

91.  On the other hand, there is room for improved co-ordination of efforts between the UK Government and Welsh Government on cross-border roads. Although the Welsh Government is expected to announce its plans for alleviating congestion on the M4 shortly, doubts remain about how these improvements will be funded. In some cases, such as the DfT's recent decision to fund improvements to the A55/A483 junction, there has been a lack of communication between the UK and Welsh Governments, which has limited the opportunities to take a more strategic view on infrastructure improvements. Disagreements about the future of the Severn Crossings also endanger the prospects of identifying a solution that is best for the Welsh people and economy.

92.  The construction of the first stage of a high speed rail network will be one of the most significant additions to the UK's transport infrastructure in recent years. If Wales is not part of the UK's high speed rail network, the Welsh economy will suffer. Ongoing and significant investment in cross-border links between England and Wales will be required in the future to ensure that Wales is not left behind. If the high speed rail network goes ahead, it is essential that Wales is connected to it sooner rather than later.


 
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Prepared 6 March 2013