Friday, 17 May 2013


I welcome the news that funding has been secured for new railway station at Pye Corner, on the line between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale after the UK government awarded the scheme some £ 2.5 million pounds. The new station which will include a a single platform and a car park with 70 spaces should be up and running by the end of 2014, in time for the Ebbw Vale line's planned electrification. This follows last week’s announcement that £ 11.5 million pounds worth of funding has been earmarked for the new Ebbw Vale Town rail station. The Ebbw Vale Town station will also be a single platform at the Works, on the redeveloped steelworks site. The Ebbw Vale line has been re-opened since 2008 and is among the south Wales valleys and commuter lines to be electrified sometime between 2014 and 2019 as part of a £350m investment.

A simple question - single track?
Putting to one side the as yet restored rail link into Newport (not to mention the need for new stations at Caerleon, Llanwern and Magor) for the moment, this is good, if belated news. I continue to question the decision to build single platform railway stations (save where the track is doubled from Crosskeys to Risca). This decision has and continues to directly impact on the frequency of the rail services that can be run, without double platforms and passing loops at all of the station on the line, we are talking about a relatively reduced up and down rail service.  If I was being generous I might suggest that it might be case of Network Rail and the Labour in Wales Government in Cardiff bay thinking along the lines of ‘Give them that [limited service], they will be grateful as something is better than nothing’.

Or double track?
At some point I have little doubt that we (the tax payers) will have to fork out the cash to build double platforms and passing loops along the length of the Ebbw Vale line if only to upgrade the infrastructure and ensure a far more regular service. I find this basic lack of common sense and even basic foresight quite disturbing, if would have been far more sensible to restore the whole line to double track working from the start. That said, the new stations at Pye Corner and in Ebbw Vale are a gain, but, why not build them with double platforms  - it will save us all time and money later.

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