PLANS to establish improved rail and bus infrastructure in Gwent will be explored to support the wider South Wales Metro scheme.

Transport projects which could cost £50 million have been proposed through the Metro Plus Regional Transport Authority programme backed by the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal this week.

Each of the 10 regional authorities will receive £3 million to develop and implement a scheme subject to funding from the £1.2 billion City Deal and Welsh Government.

Proposed Metro Plus projects in Gwent, which could cost nearly £30 million, include:

An interchange linking Ebbw Valley Railway (EVR) line and Abertillery (estimated cost: £12m+)

South Wales Argus:

  • A potential light rail/guided bus link from Abertillery to Ebbw Valley at Aberbeeg. This would link in with Welsh Government plans to run two train services an hour on the EVR line to Newport by 2021.

Expanding Severn Tunnel Junction to provide up to 200 more parking spaces (£3-4m)

South Wales Argus: ANGER: Concerns have been raised about car parking fee increases at Severn Tunnel Junction and the wider implications it will have on surrounding areas

  • Up to 200 extra parking spaces proposed, with the existing car park repurposed to provide 40 new bike and ride spaces and electric vehicle charge points.

Park and ride facility for Pontypool and New Inn station (£3-4m)

South Wales Argus: FIRST PHASE: Pontypool & New Inn train station will receive sizeable investment from Welsh Government

Improved bus services between Newport and Cardiff (£3-4m)

South Wales Argus:

  • This would provide new bus priority measures from along the M4 and A48 corridors, including ‘consistent, high-quality roadside infrastructure’ to promote and facilitate increased bus use. The City Deal hopes this would support plans for the park and ride facility at Llanwern.

Bus/rail interchange in Caerphilly town (£4-5m)

South Wales Argus: Electric charging point

  • Plans to increase existing 280 park and ride spaces to create 'seamless' interchange. This will link into Caerphilly's successful bid for Welsh Government funding to deploy electric buses within its network.

But concerns have been raised about the sole project in Blaenau Gwent by the local authority’s leader, Councillor Nigel Daniels, who described it as the ‘antithesis of ambition’.

Speaking at the City Deal regional cabinet on Monday, he said: “There are still concerns in Blaenau Gwent about moving people across the Valleys.

South Wales Argus: Blaenau Gwent council leader Nigel DanielsBlaenau Gwent council leader Nigel Daniels

“How do we get people from the bottom end of Tredegar to a factory in Abertillery? There’s got to be a lot more thought, dialogue and clarity on this.”

READ MORE: Improved Blaenau Gwent transport links 'priority' for City Deal

The Independent councillor added: “I’m not sure where the [interchange] idea has come from. It certainly hasn’t landed on my desk.”

The meeting heard that Metro Plus was the foundation for more phases of development within the wider £734 million Metro scheme’s lifetime.

South Wales Argus: The Metro Map shows how every station in south east Wales would be connected by the new systemThe Metro Map shows how every station in south east Wales would be connected by the new system

Councillor Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf, said each of the proposed projects would be subject to consultation and feasibility studies.

City Deal leaders agreed to spend £75,000 to develop business cases for a low emission vehicle strategy, infrastructure income modelling and charging infrastructure for taxis.


Plans for four trains an hour between Ebbw Vale and Cardiff

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Councillor Huw David, leader of Bridgend council, said delivering ‘critical and sustainable’ localised transport projects would ensure the Metro would make a difference across the region.

“This is not just about our cities but our towns, villages, valleys, urban and rural areas,” he said.

South Wales Argus: The Cardiff Capital Region City Deal cabinet meets in Ystrad MynachThe Cardiff Capital Region City Deal cabinet meets in Ystrad Mynach

“This isn’t just a transport scheme, this is taking people to work and bringing work to people.

“Without the proper transport infrastructure in place, we cannot realise the housing and regeneration potential in our communities.”