Wednesday, 13 January 2010
I don't often read Nick Bourne's blog, but my attention has been drawn to a recent post. Among countless empty aspirations, the Tory leader in the Assembly talks of “the need to invest in new rail lines and to enhance the existing rail services that we have.”
History has shown that when the Tories are in power, public services are cut dramatically in order to try to reduce the size of the state. Of course, its the poorest who are made to bear the brunt. Putting aside the cold hearted policies of the various Tory governments pre-1997, we don’t have to look too far to see how hollow Bourne’s words are.
At the Tory party conference in October of last year, Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers cast doubts on plans to electrify the main line between London and Swansea, stating it was not possible to give a “cast iron guarantee”. More generally, the Tories have also stated their intention to slash and burn the public purse to quickly reduce the borrowing deficit caused by the banking crisis.
Only 33% of the UK's rail network is electrified compared to 100% in Switzerland, 73% in the Netherlands and 57% in Germany. Wales is a select member of an unenviable club of European nations, along with Albania and Moldova, not to possess a single mile of electrified railway. This was why Plaid Cymru, and Ieuan Wyn Jones specifically pressed hard when we found out that a draft of the scheme proposed leaving out the Wales section of the network by terminating the electrification at Bristol.
Our efforts may come to nothing if, as expected, the Tories win power in London power in May. Wales is crying out for a modern rail service, and government wants people to reduce car usage. We can't let the Tories block Wales' rail electrification.