THOUSANDS of passengers travelling to Gwent from the Midlands will benefit from improvements on CrossCountry trains, the Rail Minister has announced today.

The Department for Transport and CrossCountry are set to finalise plans to deliver 20,000 extra seats by December 2020, thanks to £2.5 million worth of new funding by the UK government.

Passengers travelling from Birmingham to Monmouthshire, Newport and Cardiff will start to see longer trains on some services as early as May 2020, when the service aims to deliver over 5,000 extra seats each week.

The funding was agreed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and CrossCountry to help tackle overcrowding on carriages.

“Investing in transport is essential to levelling up the country as we look to modernise our rail network and restructure the industry to put passengers at the heart of the railway,” said Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.


“But we want to fund benefits to address pressing needs and improve journeys for passengers in the short-term, as well as in the future.

“More seats mean more people can travel, increasing access to opportunities and better connecting our regions.”

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart also praised the announcement.

“This forms part of our ongoing investment in Wales’ railway infrastructure by providing visible and practical improvements to passenger services,” he said.

“It is essential for Wales to have modern, reliable transport links in order enable more people to get into employment, help grow our economy and encourage a shift towards greener methods of transport.”

Investment will also be made to expand CrossCountry’s seat reservation service to allow passengers to reserve a seat on most services to ensure they can travel in comfort for their journey, as well as to reserve a space for their bike.

Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s Managing Director, said: “This delivers the biggest increase in seats for our services in more than 13 years, helping customers enjoy a relaxing and comfortable journey every day.”

The funding from the government follows an agreement to extend the CrossCountry franchise last summer to October 2020.