PLANS to restore the rail line between Newport and Ebbw Vale are on track.

Last year it was announced, as part of the new Wales and Borders rail contract run by Transport for Wales, direct rail links between Newport and Ebbw Vale will be restored in 2021.

And, speaking in the Assembly this week, the Welsh Government's transport and economy minister Ken Skates said plans to introduce an hourly service on the line were on course - and this would be expanded to four trains an hour "as soon as we possibly can".


The Argus has long campaigned for the link, which was closed to passengers in April 1962, to be restored.

Responding to a question on the issue by South Wales East AM David Rowlands, who called the line "a vital part of the overall connectivity of the region", Mr Skates said: "I am acutely aware of the tension that exists across various communities insofar as rail links are concerned on the Ebbw line.

"And that's why we are committed to taking forward plans to introduce four trains per hour as soon as we possibly can do on the Ebbw Vale line. And it's something that I've been working very closely with the local member, Alun Davies, on for some time.

"But I can tell (Mr Rowlands) today that we are committed to introduce an hourly service between Ebbw Vale town and Newport from 2021."

South Wales Argus:

Ken Skates

He added, as part of the replacement of ageing vehicles on the Wales and Borders Line, brand new trains would be introduced on services through Blaenau Gwent in 2022 - increasing capacity from the current 292 to 425.

The restoration of the line is part of the new £5 billion rail contact run by joint venture KeolisAmey, which began in October last year, and involves £800 million being spent replacing every single train on the lines by 2023, with half of these to be built in Wales - including at Llanwern-based CAF.

Other major elements of the 15-year contact - which will create 600 new jobs and 450 apprenticeships over its lifetime - include the creation and operation of the new South Wales Metro and the modernisation of all 247 stations in Wales.

The Welsh Government has said the number of services running throughout the country will have increased by 29 per cent by the end of 2023, while Sunday services will increase 61 per cent.

Fares will also be revamped, with some tickets on Metro services in the Valleys going down. And it will be easier to claim compensation if a service is delayed by more than 15 minutes.