Rail (UK)

New sta­tions form key el­e­ment of South Wales rail scheme

- Transportation · Industries · Welsh Assembly Government · Cardiff · Ebbw Vale · Ebbw Vale · Bridgend · Magor · Abertillery

Six new rail­way sta­tions are be­ing pro­posed by a Com­mis­sion es­tab­lished by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to ex­am­ine al­ter­na­tives to the scrapped ex­ten­sion of the M4 around New­port.

The South East Wales

Trans­port Com­mis­sion, chaired by Sir Terry Burns, the for­mer Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary at the Trea­sury, rec­om­mends that the line be­tween the Sev­ern Tun­nel and Cardiff should be­come the cen­tre­piece of an in­te­grated trans­port sys­tem in the area.

The rail­way, which is al­ready four-tracked, would be newly con­fig­ured so that the two north­ern lines would be used for a stop­ping ser­vice be­tween Cardiff and Sev­ern Tun­nel Junc­tion, while long-dis­tance trains would be on the south­ern tracks. All the tracks would be up­graded to a line speed of 90mph.

The re­port ac­cepts that this would “re­quire a con­sid­er­able amount of work”, given that the present con­fig­u­ra­tion in­volves trains cross­ing over the tracks in sev­eral places. But it is con­sid­ered es­sen­tial to en­able lo­cal ser­vices to be op­er­ated ef­fi­ciently. It would cost be­tween £130 mil­lion and £180m.

The re­port’s au­thors stress that this is not a new idea. Var­i­ous stud­ies and busi­ness cases pro­duced over the past decade have rec­om­mended up­grad­ing the line. The re­port says: “The re­sult would be a set of four elec­tri­fied rail lines avail­able for all types of ser­vices, nearly dou­bling the ca­pac­ity of the in­fra­struc­ture at peak times and mak­ing it vi­able to in­tro­duce new lo­cal sta­tions on the South Wales Main Line.”

Cur­rently, there is only New­port be­tween Cardiff Cen­tral and Sev­ern Tun­nel Junc­tion. The re­port rec­om­mends two new sta­tions at Cardiff (Park­way and New­port Road), one ei­ther side of New­port, and oth­ers at Llan­wern and Magor.

A ser­vice pat­tern of at least four trains per hour (4tph) is en­vis­aged. As a re­sult of this in­creased ser­vice, the Com­mis­sion en­vis­ages sev­eral other up­grades and ex­ten­sions to the rail net­work. Th­ese in­clude:

■ Up­grades to the Maesteg Line, par­tic­u­larly re­in­state­ment of the Garw loop, to al­low for 2tph along the line.

■ Com­plet­ing the up­grade of the Ebbw Vale line (in­clud­ing the branch to a new sta­tion at Aber­tillery), as al­ready pro­posed by Welsh Gov­ern­ment, to al­low for 4tph along the line and to pro­vide ser­vices di­rectly to New­port.

■ Up­grades to Brid­gend sta­tion, to al­low in­creased ca­pac­ity for ter­mi­nat­ing ser­vices from east of Cardiff.

■ Changes to New­port sta­tion to im­prove ca­pac­ity and jour­ney times. There is a par­tic­u­lar op­por­tu­nity to up­grade Plat­form 1, to al­low for easy in­ter­change with bus ser­vices.

The rail­way im­prove­ments from part of a pack­age of trans­port

projects that would largely be paid for by the £1.6 bil­lion saved by not build­ing a sixlane ex­ten­sion of the M4. This scheme was scrapped last year by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment for en­vi­ron­men­tal and cost rea­sons.

The to­tal bill is en­vis­aged to be in the or­der of £600m to £800m. It in­cludes the cre­ation of a rapid bus cor­ri­dor, greatly im­proved cy­cle routes, and some road im­prove­ments to pro­vide bet­ter ac­cess to the sta­tions.

The rail­way im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing the track re­con­fig­u­ra­tion and the as­so­ci­ated up­grades to the var­i­ous branch and re­gional lines, are costed at be­tween £390m and £540m.

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