Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 17:27 UK

Lib Dems call for big rail boost

Commuters on train
The Lib Dems say rail services need major investment

Plans to divert cash from road to rail in Wales have been announced at the Liberal Democrats' UK conference.

The proposals involve electrifying the south Wales valley lines, re-opening stations and ending the subsidy for the air link between north and south Wales.

More park and ride schemes and rail freight facilities are also included.

Party transport spokesperson Jenny Randerson said more than 70% of the transport budget was spent on roads and that "needed to change".

The 16 page paper, 'The Road to Rail: Getting Wales on the right track' is to be debated at the Liberal Democrats' Welsh conference next month before forming the basis of the party's transport plans for the 2011 assembly election campaign.

Ms Randerson told a news conference in Bournemouth: "We believe it's time to put transport at the heart of the environment agenda".

She said the Scottish Government had already committed to spending 70% of transport money on sustainable transport.

The document proposes the creation of an assembly government department for the environment and transport and a new deputy minister for sustainable transport.

The paper says "expensive" regional rail consortia, who currently help coordinate services, could be scrapped and replaced by new 'Joint Transport Authorities' owned and run by local councils.

Other plans include:

  • "Major infrastructure investment" including aiming to turn the south Wales valley lines into an "electrified metro system" and further electrification in north Wales
  • A move towards providing more rail freight facilities
  • Creating a Gwent parkway station and other improvements in south Wales to offset the cancellation of the M4 relief road
  • Improving safety on the A55 and A470 roads

Ms Randerson said there had been "years of political inaction on transport".

"Now, with money the tightest it has been in a generation, there is an urgent need for re-balancing before it is too late," she said.

"I'm proposing a radical investment programme that will see better train services for all parts of the country.

"From electrification of the valley lines to the reopening of stations, these proposals will put us on the road to rail," Ms Randerson added.

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