|The Ebbw Vale connection...?|
The news that Network Rail has revealed that the long-awaited passenger rail line between Ebbw Vale and Newport may be up and running by 2017 or 2018 should be welcomed. With the signaling work in and around Newport completed, with planned passing loops and sections of double track extra trains could run with three trains an hour, with one every hour to Newport providing the funding is committed.
The Ebbw Vale connection could enable extra services to the timetable to be run to and from Abergavenny giving rail passengers extra services and play a key role in building a strong regional rail service in the south east. Since the Ebbw railway line reopened in 2008 the new rail service failed to connect to Newport and the rest of the south east.
A variety of lame excuses offered have barely concealed that fact that the Welsh Government has been dragging its feet. Ironically periodic upgrades to track and signals in and around the Cardiff area meant that services occasionally start and terminate at Newport.
|If we don't ask for it we won't get it!|
With the much missed Ebbw Vales connection it may be possible to run extra serves between Newport and Chepstow to serve the stations at Caldicot and Severn Tunnel junction not to mention future stations at Magor and Llanwern. Similar extra services to could the line from Abergavenny to Newport, calling at Pontypool and Cwmbran and eventually the proposed station at Caerleon.
The failure to connect the Ebbw vale line to Newport meant that commuters who live in the communities in the Ebbw valley were unable to travel directly to Newport by train. This prevented them from catching connecting trains to Bristol, Cheltenham, and beyond as travelling to Cardiff in the morning and the evening before travelling to work was never going to be a realistic option.
This was a bad decision that resulted in commuters having little choice but to choose to drive to work. This lack of an easily accessible alternative helped to feed congestion on the M4. Finally by 2017-18 the Ebbw vale link may begin to benefit those commuters who daily travel east to and from work.