The Welsh Affairs Committee has recommended High Speed 2 should be reclassified as an ‘England only project’ with funding recalculated to apply an additional allocation to Wales.

High Speed 2 (HS2) has taken up significant rail investment in the UK over the last decade, and is a project that does not directly benefit Wales.

While Barnett consequential funding has been delivered to Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales has missed out on any such arrangement.

In March, research from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre found Wales could have received an extra £514 million investment since 2011, had rail infrastructure been devolved.

The Westminster committee recommends Wales' funding settlement should be recalculated to apply an additional allocation based on the funding for HS2 in England, to ensure that Welsh rail passengers receive the same advantage from investment in HS2 as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Welsh Government remains in favour of devolving rail infrastructure to Wales, however the Welsh Affairs Committee has stopped short of such a recommendation. Instead, it recommends a new Wales Rail Board be established and in place by Autumn.

READ MORE: Wales has missed out on £500m worth of rail funding

The new board would be comprised of UK and Welsh Government bodies that can consider improvements and upgrades to Wales’ ageing rail network, working alongside Network Rail and operators providing services in Wales.

Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Stephen Crabb, said: “There is a compelling case for greater investment in rail infrastructure in Wales to improve journey times for passengers, strengthen connectivity with the rest of the United Kingdom and reduce carbon emissions.

“Reaching our net zero targets will require a significant investment in rail electrification. We believe that this should result in a reconsideration of the short-sighted decision to cancel the electrification of the Great Western mainline from Cardiff to Swansea.

“While there will always be voices calling for the further devolution of rail powers, it’s clear that what passengers most need is both of their governments, as well as the rail operators, working together.

“Our Committee has proposed a new Wales Rail Board, which would bring together the two governments, Network Rail and rail operators, which can be tasked with bringing forward a shared pipeline of Welsh rail projects and which should be in place by the Autumn.”

READ MORE: Should our rail infrastructure be devolved to Wales?

While the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales (TfW) are responsible for the Core Valley Lines infrastructure (also referred to as the South Wales Metro), the UK Government remains responsible for infrastructure planning and the funding of Network Rail, which manages the remainder of the public rail network in Wales.

Responding to the committee’s recommendations, a spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “We broadly welcome the findings of the Welsh Affairs Committee, in particular the clear recognition of the need for urgent investment in the rail infrastructure in Wales, and the need to address unfair and biased categorisation of HS2 as an England and Wales project, which continues to disadvantage rail investment in Wales.

“Our long term objective remains full devolution of the rail network and a fair funding settlement for rail infrastructure in Wales.

“However, irrespective of where responsibility rests in the short term, we support the need for close strategic collaboration to ensure that infrastructure is delivered to meet passenger needs whilst delivering on our objectives of modal shift to public transport which will support our decarbonisation commitments.”

What are the recommendations in full?

The Welsh Affairs Committee’s recommends:

  • Bringing forward new proposals for greater connectivity between Swansea-Cardiff-Bristol, which would include completing electrification on the mainline between Cardiff and Swansea and a Swansea Bay Metro to integrate the public transport network westwards to Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.
  •  The UK Government should establish a Wales Rail Board, consisting of itself, the Welsh Government, Network Rail, the rail operators providing services in Wales, and Transport for Wales, by this Autumn.
  • The UK Government should set out its plans to reform the Rail Networks Enhancements Pipeline with a view to accelerating the delivery of projects in Wales.
  • The evaluation process for rail infrastructure proposals in Wales factors in the UK Government's strategic ambitions to strengthen connections between all parts of the UK. 
  • HS2 be reclassified as an England only project. Using the Barnett formula, Wales' funding settlement should be recalculated to apply an additional allocation based on the funding for HS2 in England. 
  • Enhancements to the North Wales mainline, including the upgrades at Chester and Crewe stations which will be required for full electrification of the North Wales mainline to proceed.
  • A full strategic case should be prepared for the upgrade and electrification of the North Wales mainline.
  • The UK Government, working in partnership with the Welsh Government, should prepare a full strategic case for the upgrade and electrification of the North Wales mainline.

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