Ebbw Vale train service to start in December, Cabinet meeting hears

A TRAIN service running between Ebbw Vale and Newport could start in December, a senior councillor has said.

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At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, July 19, councillors received a report on the final position of the Capital Budget for the 2022/2023.

This report explains how much money the council has received for building and maintenance projects and how much has been spent during the year.

During the item, Cllr John Morgan, portfolio holder for regeneration, gave an update on the railway infrastructure project to upgrade the line between Ebbw Vale and Newport.

The project had been discussed last week at a meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee when it was revealed that the “fair value” of Welsh Government loan had been overstated by £17.464 million.

It is one of a number of historical financial issues that are causing delays in signing off the council’s accounts for 2021/2022.

This money comes from a £70 million loan from the Welsh Government to the council to fund the project.

Cllr Morgan said: “Questions have been asked about the rail infrastructure programme lately.

“Just to bring you up to date, the improvement work on the Llanhilleth station is due to be completed in August, which I feel is extremely good news.

“Timetabling for the Ebbw Vale to Newport service is close to being finalised and it is anticipated that the first train will start in December.

“We also anticipate that the project is on track to be completed within time and budget.

Director of regeneration and community, Ellie Fry said: “We and Welsh Government are keeping a close eye on Network Rail and Transport for Wales, there’s a lot of scrutiny and management undertaken.

“We don’t have any real issues that might take us over budget.”

Council leader, Cllr Steve Thomas said: “It well to make the point that this huge scheme is running to budget.”

The documents show that last year just under £29 million was spent on the project- with £37.328 million left in the kitty.

The Ebbw Vale line reopened in 2008 after being closed for 40 years.

The £70 million investment is supposed to allow hourly trains services to run between Ebbw Vale Town and Newport.

A huge programme of work is being conducted along the entire length of the line including:

Managing vegetation alongside the railway;
Setting up site compounds and access points near to the railway which will be used throughout the duration of the project;
Laying approximately two miles of new track between Aberbeeg and Crosskeys to create a seven-mile passing loop;
Building new platforms at Llanhilleth and Newbridge – just over the border in Caerphilly County – stations and extending the existing platforms so that they can potentially accommodate longer trains in the future.

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