DIRECT trains between Newport and Ebbw Vale are finally running again - after 60 years.

The long-awaited new service has returned today, February 1. 

Funded by a £70 million investment by the Welsh Government, 30 trains will now run every day on the line.

Deputy climate change minister Lee Waters MS, with a responsibility for transport, has launched the new service today, February 1, at Llanhilleth station.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council used the loan to improve its rail infrastructure, facilitating as many as 30 services on the line on a typical day.

The Argus pushed for the restoration of the direct link between Ebbw Vale and Newport with the “Get Us Back On Track” campaign.

Transport for Wales says passengers can expect further improvements in spring when it starts running new trains on the line.

The multi-million project also includes the extension of the passing loop between Crosskeys and Aberbeeg and the installation of a new platform and lifts at Newbridge and Llanhilleth.

Mr Waters, who represents Llanelli in the Senedd, said he was pleased the service between Newport and Ebbw Vale was “finally in place”.

“It has taken a long time and required a lot of investment but the doubling of the frequency of trains will make a difference to all the communities along the route,” he said.

“This would not have happened without the Welsh Government stepping in with investment.”

He has thanked Blaenau Gwent council, Network Rail and Transport for Wales for working together to complete the project “on time and within budget”.

The line was supposed to re-open in December - but was delayed at the last minute.

'Game changer'

There were no passenger services on the Ebbw Vale line between 1962 and 2008.

Stations have reopened at Rogerstone, Risca and Pontymister, Crosskeys, Newbridge, Llanhilleth, and at Ebbw Vale Parkway – a new park and ride.

After the initial re-opening in 2008, transport authorities recorded one million journeys recorded after just 18 months.

Alexia Course, chief commercial officer at Transport for Wales, said the change would be a “game changer” who use the line, doubling the number of trains per hour and facilitating shorter journeys to English destinations.

Nick Millington, Network Rail's route director for Wales and Borders, said: “It is brilliant news for passengers and communities that new services are running on the upgraded Ebbw Vale line.

“This transformation will open up jobs, training and leisure opportunities for people living in the area and will encourage more people to use public transport, supporting our decarbonisation aims in Wales.

“I’d also like to thank passengers and communities for their patience while we completed this upgrade and remind people that with new services being introduced they should take extra care at level crossings.”