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Monday, January 31, 2005

Railroad to nowhere

The article in today's Western Mail about the Assembly's failure to deliver the promised goods on transport underlines two problems. The first of these is the difficulty that the Welsh Assembly Government has in delivering its promises, the second is the impact that limited powers have on that delivery.

Four years ago the Welsh Assembly Government proudly announced more than a dozen projects over the next five years. But four years on, just two of the schemes and no new stations have been delivered on time. Some are delayed and others may never come to fruition. The new Vale of Glamorgan service, linking Cardiff airport to the main railway line, was due to be open in 2002. It is now expected to open later this year. A new railway station in Llanharan was expected to open in 2003 but may not now see service until next year. There are many more examples including much-needed improvements to Queen Street Station in Cardiff so as to unblock congestion on the Valley's Lines. This development may now never happen.

What appears to be lacking is adequate project management on the behalf of the Government, but there is no doubt that the inability to direct the Strategic Rail Authority has severely hampered the delivery of these key improvements. This will shortly change with the passage of two new bills through Parliament. However, there is no better illustration of the case for the Assembly to be able to control its own destiny, in the same way as Scotland, as these heavily delayed transport projects.

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