|Driver training on the Gaer spur (Ian Brewer)|
I suspect that the Labour in Wales Government in Cardiff is hoping that no one will notice, but, it appears to have all gone very quiet in relation to the restoration of the rail link into Newport from the Ebbw Vale line. The final stage of the link which would enable commuters to travel to work in Newport and Bristol without having to drive or catch the train to Cardiff Central would also enable services to be run between Abergavenny and Ebbw vale, potentially adding extra off peak services for passengers.
I have long questioned 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.
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 Town are a gain, but, why not build them with double platforms - it will save us all time and money later. As I have said before if I was being generous I might suggest that it was a 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.’
Now in relation to the completion of the final stage of the Ebbw Vale to Newport line, I suspect that there is and has never been an real intention to complete it. The line as is works perfectly well for the proposed Cardiff City region – perhaps it’s time for the Labour in Wales Government to come clean and admit it?