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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Air on a G string

Francesca highlights a Guardian editorial about a new subsidised air service between South and North Wales. They report: "Mr Davies' solution is to introduce subsidised flights on a twice-daily basis from Swansea and Cardiff to Anglesey - where there happens to be a ready-made airport, but which is a centre for agriculture and tourism rather than industry. He believes an air link, using small turboprop aircraft provided by a private carrier and subsidised by a total of about a million pounds a year (or, according to Friends of the Earth, about £50 per passenger), will "increase choice". But the most likely beneficiaries of increased choice will be the assembly members themselves. Critics describe the plan for what has already been dubbed "AM air" as a waste of public funds that would help far more people if it was spent less glamorously on improving rail links."

I have to say that I believe that they have a point. This is hardly an environmentally friendly option and there are much better ways of using this money to improve links. The issue of north-south communication is undoubtedly an important one but it is something that exercises the minds of the chattering classes rather than of those who tend to look to different regional centres for their work, leisure and political focus. As the Guardian says "For reasons of topography and economic development, Wales's transport links traditionally run along a west-east axis, the M4 in the south, the A55 in the north."

I would far rather continue to improve pinch points on the A470 and A483 and use this money to subsidise a good rail service and I speak as somebody who has family in the north and who travels up there fairly regularly.

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