The Welsh Conservatives slammed the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay for failing to plan ahead for major events after the chaos that befell the capital the weekend before last.
When asked by Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies MS about why rail services were not prepared for an influx of visitors to the city – there to see Ed Sheeran and My Chemical Romance at the start of half term – the First Minister replied, “On capacity, it is genuinely difficult to expect a train company with fixed assets and a fixed pool of staff to provide those services to turn the tap on in a major way around any sort of event.”
After suggesting the lack of capacity was just something people had to live with, Davies challenged Mark Drakeford over the trains that never arrived at all, coupled with the jammed roads and miles-long tail-backs at a time when roadbuilding in Wales has been banned by his government.
Drakeford added, “Transport for Wales are currently in the process of loaning [sic] two trains from Northern trains [sic].”
He did agree with the Welsh Conservative leader that the lack of information for those experiencing delays at Cardiff rail stations was not good enough and will be taken on board by Transport for Wales.
The events in Cardiff saw 15 mile-long queues on the M4 from the Severn Bridge into Wales, further showing that the Drakeford’s decision to cancel the M4 relief road three years ago after spending £150m on a review he ignored was a mistake.
Commenting afterwards in a statement, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said, “Cardiff is meant to be a destination city, but in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other great European cities, we need a modern transport network.
“Sadly, two weekends ago, just two concerts brought the city’s transport routes to a standstill, not only showing that the appropriate infrastructure is not in place, but also that planning around major events is simply not up to scratch.
“It wasn’t just Cardiff that was gridlocked, it was vast swathes of South-East Wales.
“The answers the First Minister, a Cardiff MS, gave today fell short of the ambitions the people of the city have – it is not good enough to simply say there is no possibility of ramping up capacity ahead of major events. We know the influx of people will come, and we should plan accordingly.
The failure of TfW to provide late night trains out of Cardiff surfaced last Saturday as well when hundreds were stranded at Cardiff Central Station and no replacement bus services were provided. Station staff told passengers to use taxis or scheduled bus services and reclaim the money from the trains’ operators.