BUSINESS leaders across Swansea and West Wales have called for clarity over who is funding the Cardiff to Swansea rail electrification.
In a letter to First Minister Carwyn Jones and the Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones MP, the West Wales Regional Business Forum voiced concern "at the seeming prevailing impasse between the Welsh and Westminster Governments on how funding for the proposed rail electrification between Cardiff and Swansea will be met".
Hywel Evans, chairman of the forum, said in the letter: "We understand statements by the Welsh Secretary of State seem to imply that the UK Government will pay for the upgrade of the main line between London and Cardiff and between Bridgend and Swansea, but that the position with regard to the Valley lines and the Cardiff to Bridgend section is less clear.
"The current confusion as to who is responsible for funding the promised electrification between Cardiff and Swansea is in danger of having a negative effect upon future confidence levels within the West Wales business community."
He added: "We are already somewhat uneasy that, according to research from (accountants) KPMG, the HS2 project linking London with northern cities will have a negative impact on the economy of South Wales, as it will bring cities in the Midlands and North of England closer to London.
"The question to be asked is whether, after years of under- investment in rail infrastructure, the electrification of the line to Swansea can still be guaranteed? If not, Swansea and West Wales run the risk of being perceived by many as being 'beyond the fringe'."
They urged them to dispel any uncertainty and ensure the line was electrified by 2018. The Welsh Secretary has said that documents proved the Welsh Government agreed to pay for the Valley upgrade. But the First Minister said the UK should pay. The UK Government had not responded at the time of going to press, but a Welsh Government spokesman said they were involved in an ongoing discussion with their UK Government counterparts.