Welsh Government incompetence could derail franchise

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Lethargic Labour coupled with apathetic Tories cost Welsh taxpayers millions in botched rail franchise procurement

On the day of the second missed deadline for the Welsh Government to produce the tender for the next Wales and Borders Rail Franchise, Plaid Cymru has uncovered how Labour in Cardiff and the Tories in Westminster have already cost welsh taxpayers millions and could leave Welsh rail passengers stranded.

The original 18 August deadline for rail franchise tender was missed due to the Welsh Government’s failure to obtain the necessary powers from Westminster. The Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary admitted in July that the delay would cost Welsh taxpayers £3.5million. With the second deadline now set to be missed, the cost to the Welsh taxpayer could spiral.

Plaid Cymru has spent the last year highlighting concerns over the impending disaster in Westminster and Cardiff Bay. This included an Urgent Question in the Assembly in which the Cabinet Secretary repeated that everything was ‘on track’.

The Westminster Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has disputed a range of issues before the transfer of procurement powers take place. This includes the £1billion ‘Network Rail rebate’ which the Welsh Government had assumed they would have control over.

Shadow Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, Dai Lloyd AM, said:

“The official tender has not even been issued and this Welsh Government has almost derailed the next Wales and Borders Rail Franchise.

“Classic Labour hypocrisy means that despite countless promises the Welsh railways will stay in private hands. The cries of ‘we would if we could’ are nothing more than crocodile tears. Labour voted for the Wales Act, which they knew explicitly precluded them from creating a genuine nationalised Welsh rail operator.

“The botched job they have made of procuring the next franchise demonstrates the height of incompetence. Despite Plaid Cymru’s warnings, the Labour Welsh Government failed to get the powers they needed to procure the franchise. This has already cost the Welsh taxpayer £3.5milllion and with another delay, this figure could spiral.

“The £1 billion black hole in the franchise agreement uncovered after the Westminster Transport Secretary confirmed that ‘Network Rail rebate’ could mean passengers are left high and dry.

“Fundamentally this whole debacle encapsulates the problem Wales is facing – a lazy Labour government and an apathetic Westminster Government, which is failing our economy, our people and our nation.”

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