HC Deb 18 December 2001 vol 377 cc130-1
2. Hywel Williams (Caernarfon)

If he will make a statement on future investment on the Cambrian coast line. [21557]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Mr. David Jamieson)

The Strategic Rail Authority's strategic plan will set out its plans for investment across the network to deliver the key rail targets in the 10-year plan. The strategic plan will be published on 14 January.

Hywel Williams

I thank the Minister for that reply. I suspected that he might refer to the SRA. Can he assure me that spending on the Cambrian line is not being held back by priority being given to spending on other parts of the rail network?

Mr. Jamieson

I fully understand the hon. Gentleman's frustration and many of my hon. Friends have made representations to me on that important matter. The project was put on hold by Railtrack, before it went into administration. I know that the case for the importance of the line to the local economy and the university at Aberystwyth has been made very strongly. He will be aware that one of the reasons for the delay was the shortage of skilled signalling designers. To tackle that problem, the SRA is considering establishing a national rail academy to cover a wide range of training needs. I assure him that the scheme that he has in mind will be given due priority in the plans that we have afoot.

Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

My hon. Friend is responsible for regional airport development, so what plans does he have to ensure that the Welsh rail network, including the Cambrian line, is linked directly to Cardiff international airport by a spur from the Vale of Glamorgan coastal line? That line will open to passengers next year.

Mr. Jamieson

My hon. Friend raises an important matter in connection with integrated transport, and I assure him that that is the type of issue that the SRA will consider in due course.