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Gwent transport projects planned to support wider South Wales Metro facing delays

TRANSPORT projects in Gwent which are planned to support the wider South Wales Metro are facing delays, including three which could be “re-defined as developmental schemes”.

Ten Metro Plus schemes totalling £50-million were approved by the Cardiff Capital Region cabinet in 2019 as an intended three-year programme.

The programme includes plans for a park and ride at Severn Tunnel Junction in Monmouthshire, an upgrade of Pontypool and New Inn railway station, interchange schemes in Abertillery and Caerphilly and improving bus services between Newport and Cardiff.

But a Cardiff Capital Region cabinet report being discussed next week says that none of the schemes can now be delivered within the original three-year timeframe.

Four of the ten schemes – those in Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr and Newport – are to be “re-defined as ‘developmental schemes’” and will be delivered as part of longer-term programmes.

The report recommends extending the timescale of the other six projects by one year, with the upgrade of Pontypool and New Inn railway station seen as the frontrunner.

It says:

“The positive news is that Cardiff Capital Region has 10 local authority-led schemes in the frame for Metro Plus.

“However, delivery of Metro Plus has coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic and the knock-on effects seen in the public transport, construction and contractor realms.

“Coupled with local capacity issues impacting delivery, the scheme has met challenges.”

The report says that some of the schemes are “not ‘shovel-ready’ in the context of the short, sharp intervention and delivery within a three-year timeframe”.

It highlights the four longer-term schemes as particularly “struggling to demonstrate deliverability within the conditions established”.

However, the other six projects are seen as “focussed, short-term deliverable projects”.

These are “capable of earlier delivery”, while the other four “require revision and/or need to be re-defined as ‘developmental schemes’”, the report says.

It is recommended that the six shorter-term schemes – which include Severn Tunnel Junction and Pontypool and New Inn railway station – will be delivered as part of the first wave by March 31, 2023.

The changes will enable the Metro Plus programme to “move forward on revised grounds which promote improved viability, deliverability and affordability,” the report says.

It also highlights that there have been “difficulties cited in local authorities’ ability to contribute to scheme costs”, especially relating to those which have exceeded estimates.

The estimated cost of upgrading Pontypool and New Inn railway station has more than doubled from £3.5-million to £7.1-million, it was revealed last month.

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