Newport traders support Valley rail-link lobby
6:51am Monday 2nd June 2014 in News
CITY traders have shown their support for renewed efforts to link the Gwent Valleys to Newport with a railway line from Ebbw Vale.
Newport business owners say the link would be ‘a positive thing for the city’ - citing that if plans were to go ahead to link Ebbw Vale to Newport, it would give the city an economic boost.
This comes as a team of consultants has been commissioned by Newport council to build a new business case for the Ebbw Valley railway line to reach Newport.
But despite calls going back more than ten years such a link hasn’t yet to come to fruition with the service, which opened in 2008, running only to Cardiff.
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.
The 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.
Jon Powell of the Kiosk in Newport city centre said the railway link would be hugely beneficial to the city.
“When I was first working in the town you used to see a lot of Valleys people,” he said.
“It would definitely help trade as it would be bringing Valleys people down here again.
“I would really like to see the original link back again as it would definitely help business.”
Janne Kristensson, owner of Swedish takeaway ‘Taste of Sweden’ in the city centre agreed.
“They are going to rebuild Newport city centre and when it is done it is going to be great, but the problem is how they are going to bring the people back in to the city.
“Newport council don’t seem to be doing very much for small businesses.
“If more people from the Valleys came to Newport it would help businesses come to life again.”
Dave Went, owner of Newport pub Ivy Bush said that he remembers how beneficial the original railway link was to city businesses.
“I have run pubs in the city centre for years and years and I remember when there was a Valleys line that came through,” he said.
“Newport lost a lot of trade when that stopped.
“The trade that we have lost in the city has been horrendous-about 40 to 50 percent.
“They need to set the Valleys link up as it would be fantastic to see it again.
“People used to come to Newport to do their shopping and have a meal before getting the train back up home.
“On a night time the there was so much trade off it.”
Jon Dawkins of city web design business Dirty Little Serifs is passionate that the city restores its Valleys links.
“I am all for it,” he said.
“Having been born in Abertillery, I think the link from the Valleys area to Newport would be especially good for both places to grow.
“It would be good for a lot of youngsters to be connected to Newport as well as a lot of businesses in the Valleys.
"We don’t have a car at the moment so we have to get a bus to the valleys where 20 percent of our business is, which can take us and hour and 20 minutes.
"I could meet a client in London in and hour and 50 minutes, so it is crazy to think it takes that long to get to the Valleys.
“The link would definitely hep businesses and economic growth.”
Meanwhile Labour MP for Newport West Paul Flynn was also keen for the line.
“There is a long established link between Newport and the Gwent Valleys,” he said.
“It would benefit to both areas to see these links strengthened.
“There are a lot of people in the Valleys that see Newport as their centre for shopping so the link would be considered as a positive step.
“The link would help the Valleys be prosperous and a prosperous Valleys equals a prosperous Newport.”
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