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Plaid Cymru calls for Wales to benefit from HS2 spend

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has written an open letter to First Minister Carwyn Jones warning that Wales could be missing out on billions of pounds of rail funding.

Leanne Wood has called for a change in the UK’s Statement of Funding Policy to ensure that Wales gets a fair share of rail infrastructure funding, such as from High Speed Rail 2 which is costed at around £33bn, giving Wales a £1.9bn Barnett consequential.

Currently there is a Barnett consequential for Scotland and Northern Ireland from spending on Network Rail and Capital Rail Projects, but not for Wales. However, there is a consequential for Wales from spending on Crossrail in England, and Wales will hope to benefit from up to £1bn extra from a proposed Crossrail 2 scheme.

Both the Welsh Government and the Secretary of State for Wales have previously argued that there would be no consequential from HS2 because rail funding is not devolved.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:

“A precedent has been set that rail infrastructure improvements which substantially benefit England but not other countries in the UK, such as Crossrail, generate a Barnett consequential.

“These consequentials are determined in the Statement of Funding Policy which is published as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

“With more than £500m already allocated to HS2, this year’s new Statement of Funding Policy must recognise that the scheme should provide a Barnett consequential.

“Given the formation of a Network Rail division serving Wales since the last review, the reality of this devolution should be reflected in the financial arrangements.

“I hope that the First Minister will agree with me on this and push the issue with HM Treasury in good time ahead of this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review.”

Plaid Cymru finance spokesperson and former transport minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, added:

“Although it is claimed that HS2 is an investment that will benefit all of the UK, the current plans will benefit England more than other countries.

“If Wales was to secure this quite substantial Barnett consequential from the HS2 plans in addition to further responsibility for Network Rail in Wales, then we would have the option of building our own High Speed rail network.”