MORE than 200,000 passengers used the Ebbw Valley rail line in its first four months - smashing Assembly targets for the number of people set to use it.

The service was used by 201,000 passengers up to mid-June, 50,000 passengers more than the National Assembly projected would use the service in the entire first year.

Assembly figures projected the demand for the service would be 150,000 in the first year, rising to 453,000 after four years.

However, at the current rate, the service is set to meet this number in its first year and to cope with the demand, Arriva Trains Wales is running trains with four carriages as opposed to two every Saturday and during certain holidays.

Six years after the launch of the Argus 'Get us back on track' campaign, calling for the Ebbw Valley link to run to Newport station, there is still no set date for work to begin on the Rogerstone to Newport line.

Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council, Des Hillman, said: "It's tremendous news. We're over the moon with these figures and the usage of it."

The £30 million line reopened on February 6 for the first time in more than 40 years when around 70 people stepped onto the 6.40am Ebbw Vale to Cardiff train.

Cllr Hillman was confident about the number of passengers using the service this year will outstrip the projected figure for the fourth year "It's going to beat it, hands down, everybody whose been on it thinks it's wonderful - it's brilliant."

Arriva Trains Wales commercial director, Mike Bagshaw, said: "Arriva Trains Wales is delighted at the success of the Ebbw Valley line which has exceeded all expectations."

Cllr Hillman added that he hoped these figures would encourage work to begin on additional stations in Ebbw Vale and Abertillery, as well as the long sought after Newport link.

Ebbw Vale North councillor, Jen Morgan described the figures as "wonderful."

She added: "I think it's brilliant, it just shows the line was needed. It just proves those people wrong who said it wasn't."

Cllr Morgan also called for the Abertillery station and Newport link to be the next priority, saying it would help boost these "fantastic" passenger figures.