Rail delay is 'absolutely disgraceful' - city council leader
1:10pm Monday 19th July 2010 in Back on Track
THE leader of Newport Council has said the situation over the Ebbw Valley line link to Newport was “absolutely disgraceful”, while an assembly member said pushing for the line has been like “beating your head against a brick wall”.
Councillor Matthew Evans and Rosemary Butler AM are among the many Gwent political figures who have hit out at the news no decision will likely be made on the link until March next year.
The council leader Cllr Evans said: “I feel the people of Newport and Ebbw Vale have been very patient in waiting for a service that was supposed to start donkey’s years ago.”
The council was told work needed to be carried out to the Gaer signals before a service could begin, he said, but are now waiting for a report from Network Rail.
Cllr Evans said: “How many other excuses will there be?
“When you consider that the original proposal was for this service, not for one to Cardiff, this is absolutely disgraceful.
“We would call on the Welsh Assembly Government now to come clean about when we can expect this service. We want answers, not more evasion.”
Deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration Cllr Ed Townsend said: “The Welsh Assembly Government has let Newport down over this line.
“It is an absolute priority that the natural link between Ebbw Vale, the Gwent Valleys and Newport should be restored.”
Newport West Labour AM Rosemary Butler said campaigning on the line has been “like beating your head against a brick wall”.
“If this is true it’s outrageous,” she said, adding that it looks as if nothing will really happen before next summer and that people travelling between Newport and Ebbw Vale will have to put up with a “third rate service”.
AM for Islwyn Irene James said: “I am very disappointed that Ieuan has taken so long to tell us nothing is going to happen. “We have been raising this issue with Ieuan for some time now, and it is frustrating that the goal posts seem to be moved every time he gives an answer.”
Blaenau Gwent independent AM Trish Law said: "While the Newport link will be a huge benefit, as the Cardiff link has already proved, I sincerely hope it will not be to the detriment of our traders in Blaenau Gwent many of whom are struggling now.”
Veronica German AM, who represents South East Wales, said: “Yet again the people of Ebbw Vale and Newport areas have been let down by this government.”
Newport East AM John Griffiths said the link is vital to the city of Newport and Ebbw Vale.
“I am very disappointed that we haven’t seen more progress on establishing that Newport link,” he said. “I have pressed the minister on this issue and will continue to do so. It’s been very frustrating and I understand that.”