When you first elected me in 2015, I was determined to make the case to the UK Government for money to upgrade Cardiff Central Station. When the station is named after the constituency I represent and having been a regular commuter for many years, I knew from experience as well as from constituents’ conversations with me that we desperately needed funding to improve the station.
So, today’s announcement of a £58 million funding package is very welcome. After questions to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Wales in the chamber, lots of written questions and exchange of correspondence, I’m delighted for my constituents, for commuters to and from the constituency and for rail workers that we’ll get this £58 million funding to upgrade Wales’ busiest station – and not a moment too soon.
I wrote about need to upgrade on my website in 2017:-
Built with the help of Isambard Kingdom Brunel no less, Cardiff Central Station is an historic listed building and although some work was carried out to it in the 1930s, fundamentally it still serves the needs of a 19th century capital city not a 21st century one. Annual passenger numbers are due to climb from around 13 million currently to over 32 million by 2043, combining with huge numbers of visitors for globally renowned events like the Six Nations. Anyone whose used the station on match days or at rush hour knows all too well that the station is creaking at the seams and is well beyond its capacity.
Labour Cardiff Council and our Welsh Labour Government have an ambitious transport hub vision based in and around Cardiff Central Station plugged into a broader South Wales Metro. But this can’t be the end. As the Welsh Governments report by Prof. Mark Barry pointed out in 2018, although Wales has 11% of the UK’s total railway track, it has only had 1% of the funding for enhancement from the UK Government to date.
Electrification of the Paddington to Swansea line in South Wales was promised to go all the way to Swansea but has been shelved. This decision is the pinnacle of the under-investment that has underpinned the Tory approach to investment in Wales’s transport needs. Whilst billions have been earmarked for HS2 and key stations in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh redeveloped and upgraded, we’ve been ignored for far too long.
The announcement today is the start of what I hope will be an improved journey to and from Cardiff Central Station for my constituents and every commuter and visitor to our wonderful city.
You can read my questions to Ministers asking for funding here:-
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Written Statement of 20 July 2017, HCWS 160, on rail infrastructure funding: 2009-24, what discussions he has had with the (a) Welsh Assembly and (b) Network Rail on his pledge for station improvements at Cardiff station.
On funding, Cardiff Central station—the busiest in Wales—is in urgent need of redevelopment to accommodate expected passenger growth of 22 million in the next five years. This week, our Labour council and the Welsh Labour Government announced their funding contributions and the private sector funding, but the project can go ahead only if there is UK Government funding, too. When will the funding be confirmed?
Has the Secretary of State specifically discussed with his Cabinet colleagues funding for the redevelopment of Cardiff Central station in my constituency? Will there be redevelopment funding—yes or no?