South West Wales

Swansea electrification uncertainty 'affecting business'

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Media captionJuliet Luporini, said businesses wanted a fixed date before committing to the city

Uncertainty over the date when electrified trains will start running to Swansea is affecting potential investment, it has been claimed.

Juliet Luporini, chairwoman of the city's business improvement district, said businesses wanted a fixed date before committing to the city.

Network Rail said electrification would arrive between 2019 and 2024, but the exact date was "to be confirmed".

The line is being electrified to speed up journey times from London to Wales.

Swansea has two new university campuses opening and there are ambitious plans to revamp the city centre.

Mrs Luporini, who is also on the Swansea Bay City Region board, said Network Rail should be able to give "certainty" over dates and costs.

She believes the fact they have not could have a knock-on effect for business planning and inward investment into the city.

"It's really disappointing that we don't have the electrification date secure, with a costing, so that we know exactly what is happening," she added.

"We don't want a perception that business stops at Cardiff."

'On track'

Electrified trains were originally due to arrive in Cardiff by 2017 but that deadline has now been put back.

Network Rail's programme manager Anthea Dolman-Gair said that it had now been "set a challenge" to complete electrification to Cardiff by 2019 and Swansea by 2024.

"We're on track to do that," she said.

Costs for work between London and Cardiff have increased from an initial £1.6bn to an estimated £2.8bn.

A review in 2015 found that original proposals were "unrealistic and undeliverable" and Network Rail has said the cost of electrifying between Cardiff and Swansea was "to be confirmed".

A Network Rail statement said: "Completion of electrification between London Paddington to Cardiff is planned to be completed within control period five (2014-2019) within the estimated total cost of £2.8bn.

"Electrification beyond Cardiff to Swansea is now planned to be completed within control period six (2019-2024) with the specific date and costs to be confirmed."

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