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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Running on empty

We have already had the scandal of an empty passenger jet being flown from Cardiff to Heathrow and back six times a week for five months so as to retain a runway slot at the London airport, now we have the Assembly Government using public money to run empty trains.

The Western Mail reports that Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay will be paying Arriva Trains Wales an undisclosed sum for a train service that won't be carrying passengers:

Delays in construction work on the reopening Cardiff-Ebbw Vale line means that trains will not be able to run from July as planned. It is likely that passengers will not be able to use the route until October.

In the meantime, however, because of contractual obligations, the Assembly Government will have to pay the wages of staff who are being recruited to run the new line, which is seen as a vital tool in regenerating the economy of one of Wales' poorest areas.

The symbol of a ghost train aimlessly travelling up and down the Gwent valleys could well come to symbolise Rhodri Morgan's government.
> the Assembly Government will have
> to pay the wages of staff who are
>being recruited

Do we know if this staff is going to be idle? It would be some compensation to know that they will be deployed elsewhere on the under-resourced Welsh network.

However, I do accept that subsidies should be visible and accounted for.

I would also like to more about the cause of the construction delay. Considering the time that this scheme has been in gestation, and that it is not literally breaking new ground, one would assume that there would be no surprises for the contractors.

- Frank Little
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