Chris Grayling MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
Dear Secretary of State for Transport,
We are writing to express our utter dismay regarding the content of your letter dated 20th July in which you state that “the new bi-mode trains mean we no longer need to electrify the stretch of track from Cardiff to Swansea.”
This news came as a great shock to everyone in South West Wales, especially since, as recently as 13th July, you told Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi in Parliament that she could look forward to electric trains arriving in Swansea in the Autumn. This is at best disingenuous and at worst an out and out lie as you failed to point out that these trains would in fact be powered by diesel.
Perhaps it should come as less of a surprise, as Wales has consistently been denied proper investment in our railway infrastructure.
It is this investment in our infrastructure that is essential to drive and support economic growth in the area. The Prime Minister signed off on a billion and a half Swansea Bay City region deal but then the same Government decides not to electrify the railway to Swansea – this sends out completely the wrong message to new businesses and investors.
Electrification would have delivered a more reliable, more modern service for Swansea commuters, it could have done much to attract new business into the area and it could have helped to enhance the image of Swansea in the wider region.
This decision will also have long-term repercussions for the line, restricting the types of rolling stock that can be used in the future, both for inter-city services, and for the Wales and Borders franchise.
Secretary, you state in your letter that ‘passengers can receive anticipated improvements more quickly while being spared the disruption caused by electrification works...’ but you neglect to take in to account the effects of continuing diesel operated trains will have on air quality, noise, carbon emissions and not least greater long term operation and maintenance costs.
The greatest technical complexity and disruption will be the Severn tunnel. Non electrification of Cardiff to Swansea removes any pressure to upgrade the line. Also, if you were to travel by train to Swansea you would see that the infrastructure is ready, the buildings are up and the pylons are in. All that is needed is the overhead line carrying the current. The electric depot at Swansea was completed back in October 2015.
There is also the factor that the bi-mode trains in order to cross to the non-electric line to Swansea will need to lug two heavy Diesel engines and a fuel supply all the way from London to Cardiff - a dead weight affecting acceleration between stations and pointlessly consuming more energy.
The environmental cost on South Wales should also be taken into consideration with electrification a huge boost to the environment - it cuts use of petroleum, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps address respiratory diseases caused by particulates.
Consecutive Conservative Governments have promised to deliver electrification all the way to Swansea and it appears that the people of Swansea and the South West of Wales are being punished for Conservative Governments’ mismanagement of the budget. We would like to know how you have allowed the Department for Transport to, in turn, let Network Rail go over budget from £874 million to £2.8 billion, thus curtailing the electrification project to Cardiff?
Passengers and businesses of South West Wales have the right to feel betrayed - they were promised and desperately need the UK Government to deliver the commitment it first made in 2012, and help build the modern railway we need across Wales.
Potential investors considering coming west of Cardiff will assume that if the British Government is not prepared to invest, why should they?
We urge you to reconsider your decision and recommit to electrifying the main line to Swansea and deliver the investment and rail infrastructure the people of South West Wales deserve.
Rebecca Evans AM
Julie James AM
Mike Hedges AM
Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Gower, has welcomed the passing of the Welsh Labour Governments Trade Union Bill. The Legislation means that UK government rules aimed at destabilising the partnership between workers Trade Unions and their employers, will not apply in Welsh public services.
Rebecca Evans said: “This Bill is about protecting longstanding good relations in Welsh workplaces and stopping UK Government attempts to foster conflict in our vital public services.
“The UK Trade Union Act was unnecessary and leads to more confrontational relationships between employers and workers, undermining rather than supporting public services and the economy.
“Social partnership is founded on respect for the work of trades unions and the rights of their members. “
The Bill dis-applies certain sections of the UK Trade Union Act 2016 which, when they come into force, will inhibit established social partnership arrangements in public service workforce matters intruding on the delivery of Welsh public services.
The Bill reverses provisions for particular ballot thresholds in Welsh public services, ensuring fairness and balance in workplace relationships between employers and trade unions are maintained.
It will ensure the common practice of negotiated and agreed facility time between public service employers and recognised trade unions continues and removes related powers on facility time reporting requirements. In preserving partnership arrangements, the Bill also reverses conditions on the provision of check-off in Welsh public services.
Through the Workforce Partnership Council, the Welsh Government has been engaged in continuous dialogue with social partners about the Bill’s proposals.
Gower Assembly Member, Rebecca Evans AM, is encouraging residents in Three Crosses to have their say on the Mobile Post Office service which has been in place since the beginning of June, following the closure of the Post Office in the village.
Rebecca Evans AM said: “The Post Office is holding a local public consultation that will end on 24th August. This is a good opportunity for the community of Three Crosses to share their views on the new Mobile Post Office Service. The areas the Post Office would most value feedback on are how suitable residents think the new location is, how easy it is to access, and comments about the days or opening hours of the service.”
Three Crosses residents can express their views via an online questionnaire at postofficeviews.co.uk using the code 25164299
Mrs Evans added: “The closure of a village Post Office is always hugely disappointing to the community it has served, and people rightly feel passionately about these much-loved services. Now is a timely opportunity for residents to have their say on how the new provision is helping maintain Post Office services, and what improvements can still be made.”
Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Gower, will be holding an advice surgery on Friday 21st July, between 12 noon – 1pm, at Forge Fach Community Resource Centre, Clydach.
If you have any problems or concerns, please come along to explore how Rebecca may be able to help. No appointment necessary.
Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Gower, is reminding constituents that they have until Thursday 13th July to take part in a Welsh Government consultation which is asking people to let them know if they do not have access yet to superfast broadband in their home or business.
Rebecca Evans said: “Over 645,000 premises in Wales can already access superfast broadband thanks to the Welsh Government's investment in the Superfast Cymru scheme, and by the end of the year this figure is expected to reach 690,000.
"We are now at the stage where we are looking at the final few percent of premises not covered by the Superfast Cymru rollout or by the telecommunications companies’ own plans. In order for the work that the Welsh Government carries out from 2018 onwards is as effective as possible, it needs those without access to superfast broadband to let them know and take part in the consultation."
A list of potential premises has been published on the Welsh Government website and is open for comments. An interactive map is provided, which can help Gower residents and businesses check if they are already included on the list.
Gower's AM, Rebecca Evans, has raised the plight of the persecuted Christians in the Middle East following a powerful event at the National Assembly for Wales, hosted by the charity Open Doors UK and Ireland, called ‘Hope for the Middle East’.
Rebecca Evans said: "Civil war in Syria and Iraq has unleashed a tidal wave of violent persecution against the highly vulnerable Christian population - and these stories are not often heard. This ancient community is being devastated and displaced. For the sake of everyone in the region, peace needs to be secured."
Rebecca Evans has requested that the Foreign Secretary works alongside the international community, the governments of Syria and Iraq, and all parties of the conflicts to ensure that the current and future legal frameworks in Syria and Iraq fully promote and protect the equal and inalienable rights of all their citizens, irrespective of race, religion or other status.
ParkLives are organising free activities for everyone in parks and open spaces across Swansea and Gower over the summer, Activities scheduled for the fun day include:
Inflatable dart board
Inflatable pool table
Super sports equipment
Giant board games
Space hopper races
More information on the Llanmorlais and Gowerton events below.
Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Gower, will be holding two information sessions with Swansea Women’s Aid, on Friday 7th July. There will be a session in Reynoldston Village Hall from 12.00 noon – 1.30pm, and a further session in Rhossili Village hall from 2pm – 3.30pm.
Rebecca Evans said: “Swansea Women’s Aid works across the City and County supporting women who are affected by domestic abuse.
“At these information sessions we will be raising awareness of the work and assistance that Swansea Women’s Aid is providing in the rural areas of Gower."
Gower Assembly Member, Rebecca Evans, has joined Hollywood star and 'End Youth Homelessness Cymru' Ambassador, Michael Sheen, in pledging her support to put an end to youth homelessness.
Rebecca Evans and Michael Sheen joined First Minister Carwyn Jones at the launch of a new campaign to end youth homelessness in Wales within 10 years. The launch saw politicians, businesses, and third sector organisations promising to working alongside one another to ensure that in 10 years youth homelessness in Wales will be consigned to history.
Rebecca Evans said: "Young people are often homeless because it’s not safe for them to stay at home, or because family life has become too hard. No person should have nowhere to call home.
"Young people can be particularly vulnerable, with homelessness often leading to complex other problems such as mental and physical ill health, and drug and drink dependency. It doesn't have to be this way, and working together I know that we can end youth homelessness."
Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Gower, is backing Catch the Bus Week which runs between 3rd and 9th July.
Catch the Bus Week is a national campaign run by Greener Journeys to celebrate the importance of buses and public transport, while encouraging people who don’t usually think of taking the bus to leave their car at home and get on board.
Rebecca Evans, who successfully campaigned for the reinstatement of a twice-daily bus service in Mount Pleasant, Gowerton, said:
"Buses are integral to communities, and are our most widely used mode of public transport. They carry many people to work and school every day, provide vital access to services, and keep our roads moving - with resulting benefits for local air quality.
"Declining bus use can put services at risk, and when a service it cut it makes it more difficult for people to take up a job or training, or access services, shops and social opportunities. I was delighted to work with local residents and the local authority to reinstate a bus service in Mount Pleasant - but the message was clear: use it or lose it."
Andrew Jenkins, campaigner for Catch the Bus Week, said: "Despite their contribution to the economy, to the environment, and to our society, buses are all too easily overlooked. Catch the Bus Week allows us to shine the spotlight on buses, and I am thankful that Rebecca Evans recognises this and is supporting this campaign."