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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Question time at the Assembly

First Minister's Question Time yesterday was quieter than usual, especially since the two dual mandate AM/MPs were not present. However, there was a little bit of banter on the subject of trains - a very sore subject for those North Wales members who have to use them each week.

For Leighton Andrews the issue was how his constituents would get back to the Rhondda after a night out in Cardiff:

Leighton Andrews: While constituents of mine welcome the new investment by Arriva Trains, particularly in the two morning services to Cardiff from Treherbert, it is still the case that the so-called late night service from Cardiff to Treherbert actually leaves Cardiff pretty early, at around 10.30 p.m.. Will you, in the meetings that you and your Ministers have with Arriva Trains, examine the possibility of having a much later service from Cardiff on the Treherbert line so that constituents of mine who wish to spend the evening in Cardiff are able to spend a proper evening and get back rather later?

The First Minister: That depends on your definition of ‘a proper evening’. I think that it means closing time, but we will have to investigate that more closely with you, Leighton.

We never did get Rhodri Morgan's definition of what a good night out consists of but we did find out that he has problem with ramblers using his back garden as a right of way:

The First Minister: Yes, I will. I have occasionally had people walking through my garden, but given that I put an old pub sign up behind the house perhaps I was asking for trouble—I thought that it was invisible to the outside world but, unfortunately, it is not.

Speculation as to which pub sign it might be or even if he had installed the bar as well was rife. Some suggested "The Duck and Weave", others "The Prevaricators Arms", but somehow these names did not ring any bells.

Meanwhile on the north to south railway line the train was getting a little overcrowded:

The First Minister: I was going to say that I think that what Ieuan has in mind, perhaps, is the need for a railway service from north to south Wales that can carry, in one train, all the leaders and would-be leaders of Plaid Cymru in a single carriage. [Laughter.] I am not sure that that can be achieved with the transfer of powers that will come to us by virtue of the Railways Act 2005 and the Transport (Wales) Bill. I can assure Ieuan that, if he reads the 11 September resolution, he will find that the White Paper will reflect that.
The price of using the trains is a really serious issue (although I don't mind Am's having a bit of banter at work). I've turned 27 and no longer qualufy for a railcard (sniff). I much prefer travelling on train as I can relax and read rather then sit in ques, and it's better for the environment, but now the cost is really putting me off, especially if I'm going somewhere with others.
I intend to travell to York with my girfriend to see her family at the end of the month. It's a 5 hour car jouney on the Motorway which i hate doing, but as it costs £80 each (from Cardiff) to go on the train I'm more or less forced to drive.
Am I right in thinking that the Assembly has powers ofer transport, but waht about travel between Wales and England. Who do I whinge to appart from my local AM and will he have any clout anyway?
Peter, you spoke recently of your honour of being nominated for the Guardian Political Weblog BackBencher award.

Are you equally honoured to have been nominated for the New Statesman New Media Awards? Even though you nominated yourself?
I would appreciate it David if you could keep you comments on topic. What I wrote was that I was honoured to be shortlisted!
please note that peter black has not replied to the concerns of Rhys Wynne.
Sorry, I thought you were just having a rant about trains.

The Assembly will be assuming powers to direct the Strategic Rail Authority (or whatever it is now called) on rail, but obviously will need to put its own cash in if that requires additional expenditure. That power will not extend to the day to day running of franchises and certainly will not extend to the price of rail tickets. It may relate to lines that cross the border but I am not clear on this as yet.

You can complain to your AM if you wish and no doubt they will contact the relevant Minister and train company for you. How efficacious that action will be I cannot say.
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