NEWPORT city centre traders gave a mixed reaction to news that an Assembly member said it wasn’t in the Valleys’ best interests to link up the Ebbw Valley line to the city.

While some still reiterated calls for a passenger rail link, saying Newport needed all the help it could get, one trader expressed sympathy with Mr Davies’ point of view.

The Argus reported that Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, argued that more frequent services to Cardiff were a priority over a rail service to Newport.

The traders’ reaction came after it emerged that more than three-quarters of a million entries and exits were recorded at stations on the line from Rogerstone to Ebbw Vale Parkway.

The Argus has campaigned for a rail link for a decade.

Asking to have more services to Cardiff when there are some, as opposed to a link that doesn’t exist, is greedy, according to Phae Cole, of Bethan gift shop in Newport Arcade.

She said she was 50 to 75 per cent down on the year before: “Instead of arguing can’t they just do something?

Things are very tough at the moment.”

One butcher, Mike Turner of AD Turner and Sons in Newport Market, said the doors were “open wide for Cardiff” in every respect.

“In Newport we always seem like the last ones who are thought of,” he said.

Steve Reynolds, of Toy Army in Newport Market, said: “Newport is struggling as it is. We need all the help we can get.”

But Darran Ward, of Freestyle in Newport Arcade, reckoned Alun Davies was looking after the best interests of his area, and could see where he was coming from. He asked why anyone would use a train to Newport if there was no employment at the end.

Colin Jeffries, of CL Jeffries jewellers in Skinner Street, said he didn’t think the train would “make any difference at all” to the city.

“It’s something that would help a little but it’s too far gone to help a little,” he said.

‘Link key for prosperity’

CAERPHILLY council remains in support of a permanent passenger link between Ebbw Vale and Newport.

The council’s cabinet member for highways, transportation and engineering, Tom Williams, said the council sees the link as a key means of helping further improve prosperity across the region.

“We have supported, and continue to support, the proposals, as with the recent announcement of the electrification of the Valleys railway lines,” he said.

Meanwhile, Newbridge-based South Wales East Plaid AM Jocelyn Davies said that improved links to and from Newport were vital for Blaenau Gwent’s future.

She said: “The Ebbw Valley line provides an infrastructure for job creation within Blaenau Gwent and extending the line to Newport would be an added boost.”