Aberystwyth to Carmarthen Railway Reopening — [Ian Paisley in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 20th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Foreign Intervention), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 4:00 pm, 20th February 2019

Absolutely. My hon. Friend makes a very good point. I was born and raised in the Amman valley in Carmarthenshire and he was born and raised in Ceredigion. We understand the challenges of travelling very small distances within the communities that we represent. This project could integrate public transport and get people out of their cars. It could actually make public transport viable.

Our horizons should be broader. Why not do something really innovative and exciting as part of this project and operate battery or hydrogen-powered passenger trains on the line? I am not an engineering expert, but why not design the line with inclines leading up to stations and declines leaving them, to allow a battery-powered train to regenerate? I am led to believe that Network Rail has trialled a battery-operated train, the Class 379 Electrostar, between Harwich International and Manningtree. Bombardier is a world leader in producing battery-powered trains, so there are opportunities to create manufacturing jobs within the British state on the back of the project.

With the new nuclear power station, Wylfa Newydd, in difficulty, the west of my country needs a new big idea, as I said in answer to my hon. Friend Liz Saville Roberts. This rail line would cost considerably less than the exposure of the British Treasury to a new nuclear power station.

In a recent meeting with Traws Link Cymru, I was supplied with a letter dated April 2017 to the former Member for Lincoln, Mr Karl McCartney, from the then Transport Minister, Paul Maynard. Mr McCartney had a great interest in the project because he used to be a student at Lampeter University. In the letter, the former Minister said that

“if the Welsh Government progress positively with the studies conducted and subsequently decide that the reopening of this line is a transport priority for Wales, I would have no objection to fund and deliver the scheme.”

Will the Minister to confirm that the British Government have no objection to funding and delivering this scheme if the Welsh Government make the appropriate request? If not, will he finally give Wales the tools to do it ourselves?