A proposed rail link between Newport and Ebbw Vale has been included in Network Rail’s 2016 Welsh Route study map. Network Rail describe the route study as a ‘strategic vision for the railway in Wales’ and highlight considerable passenger growth in Wales over the last decade – a 48% increase in rail journeys between 2003/04 and 2013/14 – as evidence of the need for governments to ‘invest in a railway that is fit for the future’.
The inclusion of the long-awaited Newport-Ebbw Vale rail link in the Network Rail Welsh Route Study illustrates the rail industry’s perception of the strategic importance of the route – something that is very much in line with the local strength of feeling on this issue. As I have argued previously the Newport-Ebbw Vale rail link has the potential to be a focal point of the South East Wales Metro system, which now has the formal backing of the City Deal signed by Welsh and UK Governments.
I know from speaking to residents on the doorstep that establishing a link between Newport City Centre and Ebbw Vale is important to commuters. It also seems wrong that communities with strong connections with Newport – including Risca and Pontymister, Cross Keys and Newbridge – are not connected to the city via rail. Linking up Pye Corner and Rogerstone stations with Newport is another very logical move.
I also strongly believe that the establishment of new routes must be supplemented by nationwide efforts to reduce prices, and increase capacity on busy services.