THE development of the South Wales Metro has been given a boost in the shape of £119 million from the European Union - some of which will be used on lines in the west of Gwent.

Of the funding, £23.7 million will go towards work to allow four trains per hour to run on the line between Abercynon to Aberdare. The track between Aberdare and Cwmbach, Fernhill and Penrhiwceiber and north of Abercynon will also be doubled.

Meanwhile, £19.5 million will be used to double the line around Bargoed, south of Rhymney and north of Tir Phil.

And £27.4 million will go to works on the Treherbert line, while £21.1 million will go to the Merthyr line and £27.3 million on the new depot at Taff's Well.

First minister Carwyn Jones said: “The South Wales Metro is an important part of our ambition as a government to improve public transport and better connect our Valleys communities and people to employment opportunities.

“Today’s confirmation of £119 million EU funding means we can proceed with investment in infrastructure work on the Valleys lines to make faster and more efficient journeys a reality for the thousands of rail users who use these routes daily.”

The Metro is being set up and will be run by KeolisAmey, which will take over the running of the Wales and Borders rail franchise later this month.

Economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates also welcomed the news.

He said: "This, along with the start of the new Wales and Borders rail contract later this month, marks considerable progress towards our plans for a modern, efficient and forward looking rail service.”

He added: “We’ve listened to passengers' concerns and put their needs at the centre of our plans around the new rail contract and South Wales Metro. Today’s funding will be used to provide faster services, with modern facilities, and provide better connection throughout the Valleys.”

The Welsh Government is also applying for a further £40 million in EU funding towards more Metro works.

Work on this phase of the Metro is expected to be complete by 2023.