Wales politics

Swansea rail electrification by 2020 or 2021, says minister

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Media captionPatrick McLoughlin: 'I see the whole line being done'

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said he hopes electrification of the Great Western rail line to Swansea can be completed by 2020 or 2021.

It follows a Network Rail report which said the London to Cardiff upgrade would be completed by 2019.

Visiting Cardiff Central station, Mr McLoughlin said he understood the "frustrations" of not having electrified the line 20 years ago.

He said they were "catching up" after previous governments failed to invest.

The estimated cost of electrifying the line between London and Cardiff rose from £1.6bn in 2014 to £2.8bn in 2015.

The target date for reaching Cardiff was originally 2017, and 2018 for Swansea.

The Network Rail report in November said the upgrade between Cardiff and Swansea would fall into its next five year plan, covering 2020 to 2024.

It prompted tycoon Sir Terry Matthews to warn of "a damaging air of uncertainty" over efforts to boost the prosperity of Swansea.

Image copyright GWR

But Mr McLoughlin said on Thursday: "I hope that by 2020 or 2021 it will be all the way through to Swansea.

"I understand the frustrations of not having this line electrified 20 years ago, and the simple fact is we have had governments of all persuasions who have not invested enough in the railways and we are catching up on that.

"We will see the electrification to Cardiff by 2019, I then want to see us carry on to Swansea.

"It's very important and it's right that we should be doing that.

"We will have the equipment down here and I see that as the whole line being done."

Mr McLoughlin said he expected Network Rail to say something on its plans for Swansea shortly.

Welsh Transport Minister Edwina Hart said she had told Mr McLoughlin earlier in the day that Network Rail and the UK government were expected to "honour their commitments to delivering electrification to Swansea by 2019".

"I also raised the importance of delivering electrification in north Wales and stressed its importance in driving economic growth in Wales," she added.

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