AN ANNOUNCEMENT over the future of a rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport will be made "shortly," according to transport minister Ieuan Wyn Jones.

Mr Jones said he would be making an announcement shortly after South Wales East AM Mike German challenged him to give a date of when the rail service would be extended to Newport, something the Argus has been campaigning for.

The Ebbw Vale to Cardiff rail link was opened in 2008 and measures to improve rail links from Ebbw Vale to Newport and Cardiff were included in the Assembly's first ever National Transport Plan in January this year, but no date has been given for when trains will start running between the Ebbw Valley and the city.

In the Senedd, Mr German told Mr Jones that people wanted to know when the trains will run to Newport.

He said: "What people along the Ebbw Valley line want to know is when will the trains run into Newport? We have had delay after delay, promise of announcements and yet we have seen no progress in the last few years."

Mr Jones said a feasibility study, commissioned by Network Rail, was being carried out and was expected to be completed by early next year, and other preparation works were underway.

He said: "It states quite clearly in our National Transport Plan that it is our intention to ensure that there is a train service from Ebbw Vale to Newport and work is underway to allow that to happen. The plan commits to improvements to Gaer Junction by 2011, followed by detailed feasibility work for hourly services from Ebbw Vale to both Newport and Cardiff."