A new park and ride has been opened in Bargoed after funding from the European Union.
The Deputy First Minister and Minister for Economy and Transport, Ieuan Wyn Jones, officially opened the Bargoed Park and Ride site on Wednesday.
The scheme is the result of a successful bid for European Convergence Funding by the South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta) and Caerphilly County Borough Council.
It is the first scheme in Wales to be completed using cash from European Convergence Funding – the successor to the Objective One programme of funds.
Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister said: “I am delighted to be here to officially open this fantastic facility, which will not only help reduce road congestion and carbon emissions but also goes some way to continue the economic regeneration of the upper valleys.
“I am pleased that this project has been supported by Convergence funding as it demonstrates the practical value of our management of European structural funds.
“I am also grateful to Caerphilly County Borough Council and the SEWTA transport alliance for their close cooperation with the Welsh Assembly Government in developing this new facility.”
This scheme is part of the European Regional Development Fund funding of £2.8million that was given to match the Welsh Assembly Government’s £3.2million grant to Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Councils earlier this year.
The money will create 365 new Park and Ride spaces along the busy Rhymney Valley and Taff Vale railway lines.
Councillor Rob Gough, Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet member for transportation and a Sewta board member, said: “Park and Ride schemes have a big part to play in sustainable transport, both from an environmental point of view and in terms of reducing congestion on the roads.
“The roads linking the Valleys and Cardiff are highly congested at peak times and rail travel is proving an increasingly useful and popular alternative.
“Of course, not everyone lives within walking distance of a railway station and Sewta Park and Ride schemes, such as the one at Bargoed, will make rail a more viable and attractive option for many commuters and passengers.
“We are keen to get more people out of their cars and onto public transport, and this demonstrates that successful partnership working is helping us achieve this goal.
Improvements to existing Park and Rides in Pengam and Rhymney will follow.