COMMUTERS in Blaenau Gwent could see an improved rail service thanks to a passing loop which is due to be completed in 2016.

The Welsh Government have confirmed the Cross Keys to Aberbeeg passing loop is expected to be finished by March 2016. Edwina Hart, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, said the Ebbw Vale town centre extension should also be finished by Spring 2015, in a letter to Nick Smith MP for Blaenau Gwent.

She said: “I would expect additional services on this route to be considered in the specification of the next Wales and Borders franchise."

Mr Smith who has been campaigning for improvements for the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line for several years has welcomed the news saying it was another building block to making Blaenau Gwent attractive for businesses and commuters alike.

He said: “A glance around the country shows time and time again that if a town has a train service that gets people to jobs quickly and regularly, it gets a massive economic boost. I want that for Blaenau Gwent.

"The Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line has exceeded all expectations and it deserves to be built upon.

He added: “An improved service means it becomes more relevant for even more commuters, and that means opportunities for our youngsters to get to the jobs they need. That’s why I will continue to campaign for a half-hourly service on the line while we have the chance.”

Mr Smith has run the Move on Up campaign in recent years, surveying commuters on what they want from the service and then taking those results to the Welsh Government to help inform the choices they make.

He said: “The A465 improvements mean businesses can seriously consider this borough as their base, and a better train service just adds to that cause.

“There is still a debate going on between the Welsh Government and Parliament about funding for electrification, and I will continue to add my voice to all those clamouring for this situation to be solved so the entire Valleys line gets this important upgrade."

Last year Transport Minister Edwina Hart had agreed an allocation of £62 million in funding for 2013 to 2016 to be allocated for phase 1 of the South East Wales Metro plan to upgrade the public transport network and it was understood that the Ebbw Valley line improvements would be part of this project.