Political Editor Adrian Masters looks at the proposed electrification of the London Paddington to Swansea railway line
Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph has further details on claims that the Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan would be willing to resign over plans to build a high-speed rail link through her Buckinghamshire constituency. She’s quoted as telling Andrew Gilligan, “I would defy the party whip – be very, very sure of that. My constituency comes first in all instances. The impact on the whole area would be absolutely phenomenal.”
Gilligan explains how this becomes a resigning matter:
“For a minister or whip to break party discipline and vote against the Government is automatically a resigning matter. The three MPs are understood to hope that it will not come to that and are lobbying colleagues to change their minds. Sources close to Miss Gillan said the Prime Minister had stressed that the precise route had yet to be fixed.”
Expect Cheryl Gillan’s political opponents to use this row to call for her to show similar determination when it comes to another controversial rail project: electrification of the Paddington to Swansea line.
According to the IWA’s website, Click on Wales, which quotes Rail Engineer magazine, the official announcement on Tuesday is likely to be that the line will be electrified as far as Cardiff, leaving it up to the Assembly Government to pay for the rest if it wants.
UPDATE: I gather the announcement on electrification won’t be made tomorrow (Tuesday) but is likely to come on Thursday.
UPDATE 2: A source close to Cheryl Gillan points out that the only published route so far for the new High Speed rail link was drawn up by the last UK government and Mrs Gillan’s views on that have been made abundantly clear. But the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government has made no such announcement on a preferred route and even when it does there would be a lengthy consultation.