Network Rail Wales unit to offer devolved decisions

Network Rail is creating a separate division serving Wales, allowing investment decisions about tracks and stations to be taken more locally.

It follows a UK government report which recommended decentralisation of the network to boost efficiency.

The company says it is also planning to ease congestion in Cardiff and the Valleys over the next five years.

Prof Stuart Cole of the University of Glamorgan welcomed the news as a "positive step forward".

In May a report by Sir Roy McNulty into Britain's railways suggested "devolution and decentralisation" within Network Rail as one of a series of measures to improve efficiency.

The not-for-profit company which runs Britain's rail infrastructure has responded by dividing its activities into individual business units serving its various routes.

Network Rail says that for the first time the rail network in Wales will be managed under an all-Wales strategy by a singular business unit.

Local priorities

It says it will enable the Wales route to make independent funding decisions that are more closely aligned to the needs of customers and passengers in Wales, while delivering a more affordable railway.

The company also promises to transform the Cardiff and Valley lines over the next five years.

It said regeneration work would ease congestion by allowing more trains to run whilst preparing the area for electrification.

Stuart Cole, professor of transport at the University of Glamorgan, said the changes were a long awaited positive step forward, with priorities being decided in Cardiff rather than London.

"If people want smarter stations, or more lighting, whatever people want to see on the railway itself, then the priorities will be decided here," he said.

"We'll also be able to see what our budget is and argue for our budget to be pro-rata to the budgets in England."

Prof Cole said decisions would be taken by Network Rail Wales in conjunction with the Welsh government and Arriva Trains Wales as the franchise operator running services.

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