Wales politics

Rail network power devolution to Wales rejected

An Arriva train leaving a station

Control and funding for railway tracks in Wales should not be devolved, the UK Government has said.

MPs on the Welsh Affairs Committee said in January it would improve "clarity of responsibility" to the public.

The response, published on Friday, said there had been no "political consensus" in Wales for the idea.

However, the UK Government backed calls for new incentives to improve passenger satisfaction, after the MPs said people were tired of "old and cramped" trains.

The committee's original report spoke of an "urgent need" for new trains on the Wales and Borders network, blaming a "huge failure" to allow for passenger growth when the former Strategic Rail Authority awarded a 15-year franchise in 2003.

Welsh ministers will decide who runs the next franchise from 2018, with current operator Arriva and three other firms competing for the contract.

'Liaise closely'

In its response, the UK Government agreed with most of the committee's recommendations, but rejected handing power over rail infrastructure to Wales.

Referring to devolution proposals in 2015, which led ultimately to the 2017 Wales Act, it said: "This recommendation was considered as part of the St David's Day process, but there was no political consensus to take it forward.

"The Government does not intend to revisit the issue given those discussions," it continued, adding that the Department of Transport would "liaise closely" with the Welsh Government over Network Rail's investment plans.

In the Welsh Government's response - also published on Friday - Economy Secretary Ken Skates said greater Welsh control of rail infrastructure and a "fair allocation of funding" was needed to improve "speed, reliability, capacity and safety".

He claimed Wales and the Borders made up 6% of the UK rail network but had seen only 1% of Network Rail's spending on improvements since its creation in 2011.

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