PROPOSALS for new railway stations in Abertillery and Crumlin, as part of a £14.2 million scheme, are being backed by a transport alliance.
Members of the South East Wales Transport Alliance (SEWTA) Board met on Friday to discuss proposals for new stations and services on the Ebbw Valley railway.
SEWTA approved the recommendation by transport consultant Capita Symonds that new stations be built in Abertillery, Crumlin and Pye Corner in Newport and that a new hourly service be introduced between Cardiff and Abertillery.
It estimates that a station at Abertillery would have room for 80 car parking spaces, 45 at Pye Corner and 80 at Crumlin.
The land at Abertillery would be bought from Tesco and negotiations are already taking place.
Platform extensions at Ebbw Vale Parkway, Llanhilleth, Newbridge, Crosskeys, Risca and Rogerstone would cost around £2.4 million.
Capita Symonds looked into the possibility of new stations at Cwm and Newport West Central on Cardiff Road but rejected these.
SEWTA'S preferred proposal assumes that two trains would already operate on the line - one from Ebbw Vale town to Newport and one from Ebbw Vale town to Cardiff.
But the Newport link is a separate feasibility study by Network Rail for the Assembly and is expected to be published in March.
The SEWTA Board, made up of members from Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen, and five other local councils, has agreed to commission further work into the new proposal.
A consultation period will run until November 12 and the proposal then reviewed.
Funds will then have to be sought and the Assembly give final approval.
AM 'delighted' at Abertillery plan
Blaenau Gwent Assembly Member Trish Law said she was delighted the Abertillery spur features so prominently in the report.
But she said she was dismayed the preferred option does not include a new station at Cwm.
"Because this report is a consultation document it will now be necessary for the community of Cwm to campaign that Cwm is included on the railway map," she said.
Newport City Council's deputy leader, councillor Ed Townsend, voiced his concern about the Newport link to Ebbw Vale at Friday's meeting.
He told the Argus: "It's long overdue and I think the Assembly is really dragging its heels on this. I wanted SEWTA to push the Assembly to make a start on it."
"People in the Gwent Valleys still naturally migrate to Newport, there is no change to that, except that the rail line drives them away to Cardiff. They're going there because that's where the train goes. Newport's hinterland is a vital part of its economy. If we're going to have a brand new shopping area then I want everybody in our hinterland to get here easily."