A direct train service to Newport from Newbridge, Crosskeys and Risca, looks set to finally be introduced after the Welsh Government published its new transport strategy.
As part of a wider £210 million investment programme, Blaenau Gwent council will get a £70m interest-free loan to carry out infrastructure improvements alongside work being carried out by Network Rail and service operator Transport for Wales.
In a ministerial statement, the Welsh Government said the work will “secure the additional service between Newport and Ebbw Vale, and help unlock our jointly held aspirations to re-open the spur to Abertillery ultimately increasing services to four trains per hour”.
The new funding forms part of a £210 million investment across Wales aimed at increasing the number of people using public transport, walking and cycling.
The transport strategy aims to encourage people out of their cars, with a new target for 45 per cent of journeys to be by sustainable means across Wales by 2045, up from 32 per cent currently.
- Investigation into possible plastic contamination underway at quarry
- Is part of Ystrad Mynach moving to Llanbradach? Is Ynysddu merging with Crosskeys?
- More than £5k raised for new breast care unit after month of fundraising
- Who’s on the regional list for this year’s Senedd Elections?
- Candidates confirmed for upcoming Senedd Election
The Ebbw Vale line reopened to passengers in February 2008, after being closed for more than 40 years. However passengers wishing to go to Newport have to travel to Cardiff first to change trains.
It was previously announced, as part of the new Wales and Borders rail contract run by Transport for Wales, that direct rail links between Newport and Ebbw Vale would be restored this year.
Work was carried out last year to replace the River Ebbw railway bridge in Crumlin, next to the A467.
The £5m scheme was funded by the Department for Transport. The new bridge has a wider deck to carry two railway lines.
‘New trains’ introduced
In February this year, the latest four-carriage Class 769 trains – offering greater capacity, more room and better accessibility – went into all-day service. Transport for Wales’ existing Class 150 trains, dating from the 1980s have also begun to be rebranded and refurbished.
The Class 769 trains used to operate on the Thameslink network in the south east of England as electric trains. They have been converted for use to operate on both electric track and with diesel on non-electrified track.
They will be in service until 2023, when the new Class 756 tri-mode trains, which can operate on electric rail, diesel and on-board batteries, are expected to come to the Rhymney line.
Alexia Course, Director of Transport Operations at TfW, added: “We are continuing with our transformational programme and the Flex trains we’re introducing will provide more seats, space and improved accessibility. We’re also investing in our thirty-six Class 150 Sprinter trains to improve the customer experience throughout Wales and the Borders.
“We’re continuing to face the huge challenges presented by the pandemic and that’s why it’s so important that we look to provide more seats and space on our trains, as well as modern refreshed interior.
“The safety of our customers and colleagues continues to be our top priority and we’re investing for the future when restrictions ease. Currently, I’d like to reinforce the Welsh Government’s message, that public transport is for essential travel only, when there are no alternatives available.”
The Wales and Borders rail franchise was brought under public ownership by TfW in February, taking over from previous contract holders Keolis Amey.
Additional reporting by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Stay informed with quality, independent, local journalism…that matters
We believe the public should be informed about their community, coherently and with context. However, running a professional news service comes at a financial cost.
We are asking readers for their support to help us develop and grow our service.
Our membership costs from just £3 a month and in return, you can use our website without adverts.
Become a member – cancel anytime