The cancellation of rail electrification in South Wales Contents


In July 2017, the UK Government cancelled the planned electrification of the railway line between Cardiff and Swansea. The cancellation followed failures by Network Rail and the Department for Transport to manage the Great Western rail modernisation programme effectively. It has left local people and businesses feeling badly let down.

Instead of electrification, services between Cardiff and Swansea will be provided by new ‘bi-mode’ trains running in diesel mode. The UK Government has argued that, on this route, electric trains would have offered little saving in journey times over bi-modes. Electrification would, however, have brought other advantages, including fewer emissions.

We have heard serious concerns about a lack of funding for the Welsh railways, compared with other parts of the UK, which have been exacerbated by the cancellation of electrification. There is a strong case for investing the money saved in rail infrastructure in Wales; the UK Government should engage the Welsh Government in identifying other cost-effective options for improving the rail network in Wales. It should consider the case for straightening the track between Cardiff and Swansea to enable trains to run at higher speeds. It should carefully consider the merits and potential costs of the recent proposal for a Swansea Bay Metro, a proposal which has strong support from business and community leaders in the area. It is particularly important to consider this idea in light of the Swansea Bay City Deal. As new technologies such as battery and hydrogen powered trains come on stream, Wales should be considered a prime candidate for their introduction.

Published: 21 May 2018