Cardiff seeks rail expansion
A plan for more integrated public transport requires Government funding.
A CALL for more frequent rail services has been published by the 10 local authorities in South East Wales as part of the City Deal programme supported by the UK and Welsh Governments.
The passenger rail vision (PRV) is part of a future integrated ‘turn up and go’ public transport network that will complement the South Wales Metro project, which is electrifying the Core Valley Lines serving Cardiff and extending the heavy rail routes using tram-trains.
The Welsh Government aims to reach net carbon emissions by 2050, and improved public transport is seen as a key way to reduce the number of car journeys in the Cardiff area. With a likely cost of £4 billion, funding is being sought from the UK Government as part of the levelling up agenda to improve poorly performing economic areas.
An upgrade of the South Wales Main Line is proposed to form the backbone of a future ‘Cardiff Crossrail’ route, with the opening of new stations to justify local trains as well as the current inter-city service provided by Great Western Railway.
The need to increase the number of trains between South Wales and Bristol is also part of the plan. There are currently two services an hour, which compares unfavourably with the six an hour between Leeds and Manchester. The plan will enhance the use of the four-track main line between Cardiff and Severn Tunnel Junction, which is feasible as the relief lines carry far less freight traffic than in the past.
Action is also proposed to resolve the bottlenecks that exist on the Ebbw Valley, Maesteg, Vale of Glamorgan,
City and Coryton lines. These routes include single line sections with a limited number of passing loops that restrict service frequencies. The Marches line between Newport and Hereford is also considered to offer potential for more local journeys.
Opportunities for route extensions have been identified, with an additional five miles of passenger railway on the Aberdare branch to reach Hirwaun, and further possibilities of cross-valley connectivity using tram-trains.
The PRV is seen as a foundation for further formal assessment of emerging multi-modal travel proposals, as well as exploration of means to secure long-term capital and revenue funding.