AMs have backed Newport council's fact-finding mission as the authority tries to build a new case for an Ebbw Valley rail link to the city.

The council asked Capita Symonds to draw up a case for the provision of a passenger link between Newport and Ebbw Vale, following concerns that a 2011 case by Arup for the Welsh Government was flawed.

The Capita Symonds draft, which argues the service would support economic growth by boosting access to job opportunities, will go to the council’s street scene, regeneration and safety scrutiny committee on Friday.

William Graham, Conservative AM for the South Wales East region, said the council is right to pursue an issue that should have been settled years ago.

“I very much support the council’s actions,” he said.

“Money (for a Newport-Ebbw Valley rail link) was promised to Newport when the manufacturing side of Llanwern steelworks closed, but we have had excuse after excuse for it not going ahead.

“It’s a disgrace this link hasn’t been opened.”

Mr Graham said proposals for a Metro system of rail and bus links as part of the development of a city region in South Wales with Cardiff at its centre, is a major project, and a rail link is vital to Newport in that context.

“It is very important that a city region should not focus only on Cardiff, but on areas like Newport too,” he said.

Plaid Cymru’s South Wales East regional AM Lindsay Whittle said the inclusion of Newport on the Ebbw Valley line is “long overdue”.

“I was the [Caerphilly] council leader at the time when we took the inaugural train journey to Ebbw Vale,” he said, adding many people from the county borough “naturally” go to Newport to do their shopping, rather than Cardiff.

“This, if it comes through, is long overdue and very welcome.”

The Arup study said there was a poor financial and economic case for a link after a positive outlook by Halcrow, in 2009.

The most recent report takes a more middling approach.