Research from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre has found Wales could have received an extra £514 million investment between 2011-12 and 2019-20, had rail infrastructure been devolved.

The report found that failure to devolve rail infrastructure to the Senedd will also contribute to further losses to the Welsh budget.

The UK Government’s controversial £106 billion High Speed 2 rail project being designated as an England and Wales project, despite none of the infrastructure applying to Wales, excludes Wales from receiving additional funding that will flow to Scotland and Northern Ireland over the lifespan of the project.

The UK Treasury’s recent inclusion of Network Rail spending in Barnett formula calculations will also cause a second squeeze, with the Welsh Government set to lose out on a further £505 million over the next five years.

Although the Welsh Government runs operations of Wales’s railways through its operator Transport for Wales, railway infrastructure remains the responsibility of the UK Government.

The Welsh Government can spend its own resources to fund railway schemes, but it is not provided with extra resources to do this through the Barnett Formula.

There are also fears the end of the EU Structural Funds programme following Brexit further limits the ability of the Welsh Government to provide top-up funding for railway infrastructure.

READ MORE:

Wales Fiscal Analysis researcher, Guto Ifan, said: “When it comes to the Welsh railways, the evidence is clear that funding would have been substantially higher under a fully devolved system – to the tune of £500m since 2011, when spending data for Wales was first made available.

“That funding over the course of eight years would have enabled significant improvement projects to take place.

“Wales is also set to lose out on transport funding when the Treasury next sets multi-year budgets, due to technical changes in Barnett formula calculations.

“This is a double whammy for Wales, with the historic under-funding being baked in to the system.

“It is now clear that only full devolution of rail infrastructure - similar to Scotland – will address the underfunding of Welsh railways.”

The National Wales: The shortfall would be a serious boost to the Welsh Government budget, money that could be spent on Welsh infrastructureThe shortfall would be a serious boost to the Welsh Government budget, money that could be spent on Welsh infrastructure

The amount Wales is losing out on can be compared to the estimated cost of several major Welsh rail infrastructure projects.

The Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line would cost between £620-775 million, for example, while the estimated cost of electrification of the North Wales Coast mainline sits at around £764 million.

The report has been submitted as evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee’s inquiry into rail infrastructure in Wales.

How Westminster and the Senedd interact impacts our day-to-day lives. Help us continue to highlight and scrutinise this by becoming a subscriber.