THE NEWSDESK: Running the rail link from Ebbw Vale to Newport really is a no-brainer

ALL ABOARD: This train should be bound for Newport

ALL ABOARD: This train should be bound for Newport

First published in News
Last updated
South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

I'M heartened to hear that Newport council has commissioned a team of consultants to build a new business case for the Ebbw Valley railway line to reach the city.

We reported on Saturday that there are concerns that a business case prepared by Arup for the Welsh Government in 2011 was flawed as it excluded a direct link to Newport from Ebbw Vale.

The Capita work could form the basis of lobbying to the Welsh Government, according to council documents.

In draft work done by Capita, included in a report to the committee, the consultants argue that the service would support economic growth in the Valley and Newport regions by boosting access to job opportunities.

It claims that the previous Arup work, in 2011, suggested that there was a poor financial and economic case for the scheme, and that there would be a passenger demand of 217,000.

That was despite work commissioned by the Welsh Government in 2009 from Halcrow which was more positive and suggested 552,000 trips could be taken within the first year.

“The proposed Ebbw Vale to Newport service is likely to reduce journey times...whilst providing a more direct link from the Valley to the Northern and Eastern parts of the UK,” the draft strategic outline case from Capita says.

“The service would support economic growth within the Valley and Newport regions by improving access to employment opportunities, in addition to developing business integration across the South East of Wales.

“Moreover, the service would help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants of the whole of the valley.”

The council's Street Scene, Regeneration and Safety scrutiny committee will decide how to go ahead with its review when it meets next Friday.

This newspaper has campaigned for the link for more than a decade for very good reason - this city needs it. Its city centre traders need it, the people who need to commute to jobs in the city need it.

Never has a city on a rail mainline been so woefully served by its lack of stations and local line links.

Cardiff, by comparison, has well-established, good rail links with all its feeder valleys.

And, now, Newport's.

It is the larger twin, guzzling up all the investment and opportunity at the expense of its smaller sibling.

And this cannot go on.

There is much talk of the south east Wales metro network and other public transport links.

But for Newport to ensure its unique identity is retained, to ensure its businesses and workforce are not the poor relation of south Wales, it is clear that this city needs both the Ebbw Valley link and the M4 relief road, and it needs them urgently.

In January the Argus reported that Welsh Government minister Edwina Hart had earmarked funding for improvements to the Ebbw Valley line that would allow for an extra hourly passenger rail service as part of the South East Wales Metro plan.

This move has the potential to provide a link to Newport – but it was unclear when it would go ahead or whether that train would instead be bound for Cardiff.

Surely, this is a no-brainer. That extra trip must be bound for Newport.

WHEN will political parties learn?

There were reports yesterday that Labour party members in the Cynon Valley cancelled a meeting to select a replacement parliamentary candidate for retiring Ann Clwyd after being told they must select from an all-women shortlist.

Local views were, allegedly, ignored. Here we go again. Has Labour not learned the lessons of Blaenau Gwent?

Regular readers of this column will know that I am not a fan of all-women shortlists, in the same way I am not a fan of all-men, all-white, all-middle class or all-anything shortlists.

While they are initially effective at improving the gender balance they do not, in my view, work in the long term. Women leave politics for a variety of reasons which will not be addressed until we, as a society as a whole, address the issue of who is doing the child-rearing and why it is still an area dominated by one gender, when it should plainly be equally divided as each family sees fit.

I understand their honourable intentions, but I believe in equality for all, not just women. The motto of my (comprehensive) school was "to each their opportunity". I took it to heart.

Having said that, if constituencies such as Monmouth (which has selected its candidate from one) want them, then that is up to the local party to make and defend those local decisions.

Imposing them from outside causes nothing but bitterness and resentment, particularly in an area which already has a sitting woman MP.

Comments (11)

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8:03pm Sun 1 Jun 14

chelsea fatboy says...

With a bit of planning the existing Cheltenham to Maesteg service could be replaced by a Ebbw Vale to Maesteg and a Ebbw Vale to Cheltenham service, both Newport & Cardiff get served, all it needs now is for someone to decide who pays for the line to be doubled in the Llanhilleth area
With a bit of planning the existing Cheltenham to Maesteg service could be replaced by a Ebbw Vale to Maesteg and a Ebbw Vale to Cheltenham service, both Newport & Cardiff get served, all it needs now is for someone to decide who pays for the line to be doubled in the Llanhilleth area chelsea fatboy
  • Score: 11

10:18pm Sun 1 Jun 14

ngtarr says...

It is not a case of 'can this be done', it i a case of "this is necessary". Newport's redevelopment must not only attract residents back into the city, but also tourists and those in the valleys. The ebbw valley is one of Newport's sources of shoppers. What has been happening is the Cardiff to ebbw vale service has been a factor in Newport's retail issues. There are at least 3 reasons why the link to Newport is needed.
1) it will make it easier for residents in Islwyn and Blaenau Gwent to get to work and shops.
2) increased access to ebbw vale from other parts of the UK.
3) with the plan for a race track in ebbw vale, rail transport links will be needed.
the electrification of the valleys will cover the ebbw vale line and the routes to both Cardiff and Newport, so the trains must carry on to Newport to make it 100% worthwhile.
It is not a case of 'can this be done', it i a case of "this is necessary". Newport's redevelopment must not only attract residents back into the city, but also tourists and those in the valleys. The ebbw valley is one of Newport's sources of shoppers. What has been happening is the Cardiff to ebbw vale service has been a factor in Newport's retail issues. There are at least 3 reasons why the link to Newport is needed. 1) it will make it easier for residents in Islwyn and Blaenau Gwent to get to work and shops. 2) increased access to ebbw vale from other parts of the UK. 3) with the plan for a race track in ebbw vale, rail transport links will be needed. the electrification of the valleys will cover the ebbw vale line and the routes to both Cardiff and Newport, so the trains must carry on to Newport to make it 100% worthwhile. ngtarr
  • Score: 16

7:51am Mon 2 Jun 14

Bobevans says...

For whatever reason they don't want to run trains through to Newport, It can easily be done at little expense by splitting the current Cardiff trains at Rogerstone. It they use a 2 car unit and a 1 car unit the 1 car unit can be split at Rogerstone. All you need is the 1 car unit and an additional driver to cover the Rogerstone to Newport section
For whatever reason they don't want to run trains through to Newport, It can easily be done at little expense by splitting the current Cardiff trains at Rogerstone. It they use a 2 car unit and a 1 car unit the 1 car unit can be split at Rogerstone. All you need is the 1 car unit and an additional driver to cover the Rogerstone to Newport section Bobevans
  • Score: 3

8:10am Mon 2 Jun 14

Sara_Risca says...

I think before this can be done they need to improve the current service to cardiff, not enough carriages and hourly trains isnt enough. If peak services are jam packed as it is, adding more passengers would cause more issues.
I think before this can be done they need to improve the current service to cardiff, not enough carriages and hourly trains isnt enough. If peak services are jam packed as it is, adding more passengers would cause more issues. Sara_Risca
  • Score: 1

5:04pm Mon 2 Jun 14

MERoden says...

The best solution all round is to add Newport as a stop to the existing Ebbw Vale to Cardiff route, and increase the number of carriages. This way, the people that want to go to Cardiff will get more frequent trains, and the people that want to go to Newport, Bristol, Gloucester, London etc, will be able to change at Newport. People that go to these places (i.e. Bristol, Gloucester etc) currently have to travel 20 miles in the wrong direction to Cardiff and then another 15 miles all the way back to Newport so they can then go to their destination. This is an AWFUL LONG WAY ROUND for those people. This is PURE MADNESS. A stupid arrangement. These journeys would be a lot shorter and quicker if the Ebbw Vale to Newport connection was open.

It makes perfect business sense to open the Ebbw Vale to Newport connection. It is just a small section of line at the Gaer Junction on Cardiff Road, Newport that will need some work. Did you know that the Newport connection was actually being used for the past few weeks? YES it is because the Cardiff connection is closed at the moment due to rail engineering work. This proves that the Newport connection is fine. The bulk of it is ALREADY THERE. Just a few small improvements are required.

Now is a better time than ever to invest in rail infrastructure in and around Newport. Newport is on the up. Newport City Centre is being re-developed. It will be great when it is done, but all the investment in the world in Newport is no good if there is not the rail infrastructure investment to go with it.

This Ebbw Vale to Newport rail connection MUST be opened. This is CRITICAL to Newport's success.
The best solution all round is to add Newport as a stop to the existing Ebbw Vale to Cardiff route, and increase the number of carriages. This way, the people that want to go to Cardiff will get more frequent trains, and the people that want to go to Newport, Bristol, Gloucester, London etc, will be able to change at Newport. People that go to these places (i.e. Bristol, Gloucester etc) currently have to travel 20 miles in the wrong direction to Cardiff and then another 15 miles all the way back to Newport so they can then go to their destination. This is an AWFUL LONG WAY ROUND for those people. This is PURE MADNESS. A stupid arrangement. These journeys would be a lot shorter and quicker if the Ebbw Vale to Newport connection was open. It makes perfect business sense to open the Ebbw Vale to Newport connection. It is just a small section of line at the Gaer Junction on Cardiff Road, Newport that will need some work. Did you know that the Newport connection was actually being used for the past few weeks? YES it is because the Cardiff connection is closed at the moment due to rail engineering work. This proves that the Newport connection is fine. The bulk of it is ALREADY THERE. Just a few small improvements are required. Now is a better time than ever to invest in rail infrastructure in and around Newport. Newport is on the up. Newport City Centre is being re-developed. It will be great when it is done, but all the investment in the world in Newport is no good if there is not the rail infrastructure investment to go with it. This Ebbw Vale to Newport rail connection MUST be opened. This is CRITICAL to Newport's success. MERoden
  • Score: 9

5:47pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk says...

Yes,
commuters and business connectivity to the community's there work force comes from so is essential that the best is provided . And buss integrate to the to the best rapid passenger transportation in the world. To generate the economy of Newport the vales and marches areas and beyond for the nation.
Yes, commuters and business connectivity to the community's there work force comes from so is essential that the best is provided . And buss integrate to the to the best rapid passenger transportation in the world. To generate the economy of Newport the vales and marches areas and beyond for the nation. Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk
  • Score: 1

5:59pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk says...

We note they have double lined pye corner station, in newport but there is only one platform? . SO if a train is in the station you cannot get off ?
AS WE USED TO SAY ALL ABOARD THE SKY LARK?
We note they have double lined pye corner station, in newport but there is only one platform? . SO if a train is in the station you cannot get off ? AS WE USED TO SAY ALL ABOARD THE SKY LARK? Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk
  • Score: 1

6:03pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk says...

Yes,
commuters and business connectivity to the community's there work force comes from so is essential that the best is provided . And busses integrate to the to the best rapid passenger transportation in the world. To generate the economy of Newport the vales and marches areas and beyond for the nation.
Yes, commuters and business connectivity to the community's there work force comes from so is essential that the best is provided . And busses integrate to the to the best rapid passenger transportation in the world. To generate the economy of Newport the vales and marches areas and beyond for the nation. Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk
  • Score: 0

6:49pm Mon 2 Jun 14

blackandamber says...

Look we all know it's a no brainer . The problem is the people with no brains in the wag that are the problem.
Look we all know it's a no brainer . The problem is the people with no brains in the wag that are the problem. blackandamber
  • Score: 2

11:37pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk says...

The welsh government gave the responsibility for this line to Newport city council, for there recommendations and comments be for granting. Any money for line improvements and thay where court napping. And did not have a plan so rushed a botched plan to together without looklng at the needs of the city and the region. It's pety minded nimbyisam.that is holding this region
Back? There is still not a plan for the pubic transport of the region. No cross boundary comunecion. No direction, no vision, to clabaration. No south wales integrated transport east section?
The welsh government gave the responsibility for this line to Newport city council, for there recommendations and comments be for granting. Any money for line improvements and thay where court napping. And did not have a plan so rushed a botched plan to together without looklng at the needs of the city and the region. It's pety minded nimbyisam.that is holding this region Back? There is still not a plan for the pubic transport of the region. No cross boundary comunecion. No direction, no vision, to clabaration. No south wales integrated transport east section? Campaign for better transport/Swites.org.uk
  • Score: 3

5:21am Tue 3 Jun 14

chelsea fatboy says...

Bobevans wrote:
For whatever reason they don't want to run trains through to Newport, It can easily be done at little expense by splitting the current Cardiff trains at Rogerstone. It they use a 2 car unit and a 1 car unit the 1 car unit can be split at Rogerstone. All you need is the 1 car unit and an additional driver to cover the Rogerstone to Newport section
It would cost a fair bit to go with that plan, the signalling at Rogerstone would have to be altered plus extra signals installed, all the stations were built for four carriage trains, so what happens on a rugby day when hundreds of passengers can`t get on the two carriage train to Cardiff, while the two carriage train to Newport will be empty.
The whole sorry saga has been one big **** up from day 1, the line should of had the passing loop included from the start in the Llanhilleth area, it would of worked out cheaper back then to have had the passing loop installed, compared to the cost now if it ever happens, no doubt any work will at some stage disrupt the service
[quote][p][bold]Bobevans[/bold] wrote: For whatever reason they don't want to run trains through to Newport, It can easily be done at little expense by splitting the current Cardiff trains at Rogerstone. It they use a 2 car unit and a 1 car unit the 1 car unit can be split at Rogerstone. All you need is the 1 car unit and an additional driver to cover the Rogerstone to Newport section[/p][/quote]It would cost a fair bit to go with that plan, the signalling at Rogerstone would have to be altered plus extra signals installed, all the stations were built for four carriage trains, so what happens on a rugby day when hundreds of passengers can`t get on the two carriage train to Cardiff, while the two carriage train to Newport will be empty. The whole sorry saga has been one big **** up from day 1, the line should of had the passing loop included from the start in the Llanhilleth area, it would of worked out cheaper back then to have had the passing loop installed, compared to the cost now if it ever happens, no doubt any work will at some stage disrupt the service chelsea fatboy
  • Score: 2

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