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Plan for overhaul of Welsh rail network could see dozens of new stations built

from: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/plan-overhaul-welsh-rail-network-5692680

Plan for overhaul of Welsh rail network could see dozens of new stations built

10 Aug 2013 05:45

Strategy would mean upgrade for lines across South East Wales with millions of pounds to be invested

St Fagans Crossing
St Fagans Crossing

A multi-million pound plan for an overhaul of the rail network in South East Wales that could see new stations built and more services added has been unveiled for consultation.

The strategy unveiled for consultation by regional transport consortium the South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta) – which represents 10 councils across Wales – calls for the opening of up to 17 new stations and for electrification to be rolled out to the whole rail network in the region by 2030 as part of a move towards a South Wales Metro system.

It claims there the business case for extension of electrification shows “long-term potential and benefits” of electrification of the whole South East network in Wales.

The total capital cost, according to the strategy, would amount to nearly £20m a year, with revenue costs projected to increase over the first decade of the plan to between £13m and £15m a year.

But it says with electrification in 2020, operating costs would fall and increasing revenues would offset costs.

Electrification was given the green light last year by the UK Government to span the Great Western main line from London Paddington as far as Swansea, while the South Wales Valleys network was also given the go-ahead.

It also comes amid growing calls for a re-think on how the rail network is administered in Wales with Arriva Trains Wales’ franchise due to end in 2018, with pressure growing for a not-for-profit model to be adopted instead.

The new strategy – which is open for consultation until September 30 – would see additional rolling stock added to cope with growing demand – with Sewta warning of “train capacity problems” due to high passenger growth, citing the Valleys lines growing above the UK average at 6% a year, with some lines seeing 80% growth rates.

It also proposes adding stations in Energlyn in Caerphilly, Brackla near Bridgend, Upper Boat, Caerleon, Coedkernew, Crumlin, Pye Corner and Llanwern, as well as three new stations in Cardiff at Albany Road / Crwys Road, St Fagans and St Mellons.

It would also see more services on the Ebbw Valley line to Newport, the Abergavenny and Chepstow lines and the Cardiff-Bristol line.

Extensions to lines including Ebbw Vale Parkway to Ebbw Vale town, Aberdare to Hirwaun, Ystrad Mynach to Bedlinog, Llanhilleth to Abertillery, Pontyclun to Beddau and the Caerphilly-Machen-Newport line.

That plan would also see new stations at Trecynon, Nelson, Trelewis, Talbot Green, Llantrisant and Gwaunmeisgyn on extended lines.

A more frequent service is also proposed on some lines, including the Rhymney, Maesteg and Vale of Glamorgan lines, as well as the Barry, Caerphilly and Pontypridd to Cardiff lines, and new Sunday services on the Maesteg and Coryton lines.

Sewta’s membership includes the local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan.

It then claims projected revenue increases would offset costs from 2020, when electrification reduces operating costs.

The study also recommends electrification of the Abergavenny to Shrewsbury and Chepstow to Gloucester lines.

Councillor Phil White, chairman of Sewta and Cabinet Member for Communities at Bridgend council, said: “This strategy update demonstrates how electrification is strengthening the case for a host of further enhancements to the regional rail network.

“This report sets out an exciting programme for the next two decades. I would encourage communities and businesses throughout the region to let us know what they think about the priorities set out in the report.”

Byron Davies, the Tory Shadow Transport Minister, said: “These are very welcome proposals for major improvements to the rail infrastructure of South East Wales, which demonstrate how the Conservative-led coalition’s plans for electrification are leading to even bolder ambitions to upgrade our transport network.

“The Welsh Labour Government now needs to play its part in funding rail improvements to complement electrification and ensure that capacity constraints do not curtail the massive potential benefits which electrification will bring to South Wales.”

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