TRAFFIC jams and long delays on the M4 around Newport could become a thing of the past if new rail links are developed between South Wales and England.

The Welsh and UK governments will work together on improving the region's railways and encourage more people to travel by train instead of driving.

Today they have announced a major stride forward in efforts to modernise rail links in and around the city, maximising the potential of the public transport network.

New railway stations and new train services are both on the table as ministers pledge to collaborate on a £2.7 million UK Government-funded study to develop the South Wales Main Line.

The calls for better rail services are nothing new - in recent years the special commission set up after the M4 relief road was cancelled has backed rail investment as the best way to improve transport around Newport, and Lord Peter Hendy also prioritised congestion solutions for the city in his own report on the UK's rail connectivity.

One of the options in the new study is the building of five new railways stations between Cardiff and Severn Tunnel Junction.

In Westminster, the government said it believed strengthening the nation's rail network would "create a more cohesive and connected" UK.

Ministers in the Welsh Government, meanwhile, have endorsed the recommendations put forward by the transport commission following the relief road decision.

Lee Waters, the deputy climate change minister in the Welsh Government, called it the new study a "key step to tackle congestion around Newport and was one of the main recommendations of the Burns Commission, which was endorsed by Lord Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review".

He added: "The business case is compelling and we are keen to make progress so that we can get more people onto South Wales Main Line trains, complementing the Welsh Government’s investments in improving access to rail."

David Davies, MP for Monmouth and the UK's secretary of state for Wales, also talked up the economic benefits of developing better rail links.

"Good transport connections between South Wales and Western England are essential for the economy in Wales, enabling businesses to grow and flourish and making life easier for people to travel for work and leisure," he said.

"This funding from the UK Government is vital in exploring how best to relieve congestion across South Wales.

"I’m pleased to work with the Welsh Government on plans that could have a huge impact on the many thousands of people who use the transport network in South Wales every day."