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Swansea West MP Geraint Davies hope on electric rail

24 June 11 06:49
First Great Western train

An MP believes there is still hope for electrifying the railway as far as Swansea.

A £1bn electrification of the main line from London was given the go ahead in March but only as far as Cardiff.

The UK government found "no evidence of a pattern of demand" from Cardiff to Swansea and those trains will switch to diesel power from 2017.

But Swansea West MP Geraint Davies said European funding could provide an answer.

He said electrification could also be justified for Swansea if the number of services could be increased to more than one an hour off-peak.

He said not all of these services would need to go to London, and these could include services that stop at Bristol or Bath.

Mr Davies argues that if convergence funding is available from Europe, then it would cover over half of the cost of extending the line, with the UK and Welsh govenments paying the rest.

"What's changed is we are throwing into the mix the possibility of convergence funding and extra services," said Mr Davies who will hold further meetings next month.

Further calls

"In the event that convergence funding is available and the frequency of trains improve slightly, it could happen.

"If we went up to three or four an hour, it would help.

"If the boxes can be ticked, the government will play its part in making sure electricity is sent to Swansea.

"What we need to know is what the timing is with convergence funding.

"The objective is to get Swansea electrified immediately rolling forward from Cardiff so that there's no delay."

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said the electrification was vital to the recovery of the Welsh economy and that the case for electrification to Swansea remained under review.

The Welsh Government has also called for the full electrification of the line to Swansea, as has Swansea council leader Chris Holley.

He said other countries had used EU grants to pay for similar projects.

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