I welcome Network Rail's plans to make improvements to stations, lines and signalling equipment could double the rail capacity of the region by 2015 and to ease railway congestion in Cardiff and the south Wales valleys have been revealed. It has long been recognised that passenger demand in Cardiff and the valleys is increasing at 8% on average each year.
Network Rail, which owns and operates Britain's rail infrastructure, has predicted that the number of passengers travelling in Cardiff and the valleys would exceed 12m per year by the end of 2015 and has said some 900 trains already travelled daily through the Cardiff area, but the railway needed more capacity by the end of the decade.
The proposed changes would remove the rail bottleneck on the Cardiff city line and allow an extra four trains an hour to run through the area. The £200 million pound improvement plan will help the railway manage the increasing numbers of passengers longer-term and will allow for more and longer trains to run on the valley lines, with 600 more seats during the rush hour.
Additionally more freight trains would run in Cardiff, boosting the business sector, and more robust and efficient signalling equipment would improve reliability of services. One question though - what about Gwent?
In the south east we could do with railway stations at Caerleon and Magor, not to mention the opening of the line between Newport and Ebbw Vale to passenger traffic. We need far better facilities for passengers at Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Severn Tunnel Stations - including save and secure park and ride facilities - to provide and alternative means to getting to and from work, not to mention a start being made on the electrification of the Gwent Valley lines.