A WELSH transport body is looking at extending the Ebbw Valley rail line to Abertillery.

The South East Wales Transport Alliance - a body that represents the transport plans of the region’s councils - is also studying the potential for new stations at Cwm, Crumlin, Pye Corner and Newport West Central as well as a Aberbeeg-Abertillery link.

The proposal to build a branch line on the Ebbw Valley to Cardiff link to Abertillery, which could be used by tens of thousands of commuters and shoppers, had been on the cards for a number of years.

Currently, the nearest station is three miles away at Llanhilleth and a bus link between the town and that station was axed in April last year when Blaenau Gwent Council said it couldn't afford to continue funding the service which cost £200,000 a year to run, after Assembly funding ended.

Bus firms who had run the link estimated they had carried more than 30,000 passengers in the year the bus links had been running.

The Abertillery link had failed to appear in the Assembly’s recent National Transport Plan and Blaenau Gwent assembly member Trish Law had quizzed ministers as to whether the scheme was still on the radar.

Yesterday the area’s elected representatives welcomed the news.

Mrs Law said she is delighted to see that both the Abertillery spur and Cwm station are now on the radar with the planned feasibility study.

“I will be even more delighted when I see a commitment to proceed with both developments and that they will be firmly back on track," she said.

Councillor David Rocke of Cwmtillery said a rail link to the town could help with encouraging tourism in the Valleys, with excellent views from the hills around the town attracting in walkers.

He said: “I think a rail link would enable people to come up here.”

Blaenau Gwent Council leader Des Hillman welcomed the news, and said he hoped for positive proposals to move expansion of the line forward.

It is not yet known how much an Abertillery link would cost. The study is to report back to the SEWTA board in September.