Eluned Parrott AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister, has welcomed the news that the Welsh rail franchise will be devolved to the Welsh Government and that the Valleys lines electrification will go ahead. She writes...
Today's announcement is a landmark as it means decisions on Welsh train services will now be made in Wales. The fact that this power has been brought closer to the people of Wales shows just how strong the Liberal Democrat influence is in the Wales Office.
Until now, the Governments at either end of the M4 have been able to pass the buck between them over who is to blame when things go wrong. Now we will know absolutely where responsibility lies for making improvements to services and giving Wales the trains it deserves.
I'm also absolutely delighted that the Welsh and UK Governments have been able to resolve the matter of funding for Valley Lines electrification, and that this project will now go ahead as planned, and the experience of passengers will be transformed. Valleys trains have been neglected for far too long by successive Governments, and these improvements will bring a huge boost to our economy as journey times are reduced and quality improved.
Having taken full control of the Welsh rail franchise, the Welsh Government will now have to work quickly to develop the expertise necessary to design and let the next franchise if the mistakes of previous agreements are going to be avoided.
The Welsh Government has less than 4 years to decide what all of Wales needs now and in the future, run a franchise competition, select an operator and then ensure they have the trains they need to deliver decent services. This will be no mean feat, but with matters resolved and commuters knowing where to look for answers, our rail services will be properly accountable at last.