Wales

Edwina Hart dismisses cross-border trains 'threat'

Aberystwyth station
Image caption The Aberystwyth - Birmingham route is among those which could be affected

Claims direct cross-border rail services could be under threat due to devolution have been dismissed by Wales' transport minister.

Edwina Hart accused UK officials of "ignorance" amid suggestions passengers could have to change trains on some services between Wales and England.

Responsibility for the Wales and Border network will be devolved in 2017.

A Department of Transport spokesman said no decisions would be made without considering local views.

Services from Aberystwyth to Birmingham and Milford Haven to Manchester via Cardiff, are among routes which could be affected.

In last year's St David's Day agreement, the UK government wrote: "In order for the secretary of state for transport to ensure proper accountability, it is likely that services primarily serving English markets will be placed into other franchises for which the Secretary of State for Transport is the franchising authority".

'Ignorance'

Responding to suggestions some passengers may have to change trains on cross-border routes, Mrs Hart said some Whitehall officials "don't actually understand how things work and what are important".

"I base some of their comments on ignorance rather than a conspiracy theory," she said.

"We want to ensure those services remain within the franchise."

John Rogers from campaign group Railfutures Wales said: "It's ludicrous, it's impractical, it's being done behind the scenes with a lot of secrecy initially and we're determined to fight it".

"It's not in the interests of passengers. People hate changing trains, it's a deterrent and it would affect the tourist industry," he added.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are working closely with the Welsh government to develop plans for cross-border routes and stations as we move towards devolving the next Wales and Border franchise".

The routes which could be affected

  • Aberystwyth - Birmingham International
  • Holyhead - Manchester
  • Wrexham - Bidston
  • Milford Haven - Manchester

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