Metro plans make progress

PROPOSALS for new rail stations as part of a joined-up South West Metro transport network are being taken forward by a new board.

It met at the end of last month and will develop the case for new infrastructure and services from Neath Port Talbot to Pembrokeshire.

The Metro board is made up of officials from the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, Network Rail, the UK Department for Transport, and the four councils of Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

The South West Metro isn’t a new proposition, and the question of devolved powers and funding are seen by some as key to any delivery.

Asked for an update by South Wales West MS Dai Lloyd, the Welsh Government said it remained committed to the idea.

Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said the new Metro board met on September 29 and was taking forward three areas of work for further assessment and business case development.

These included a Swansea, Llanelli and Neath urban area rail network, which could be achieved by making better use of the freight-carrying Swansea District Line – running parallel with the M4 – and the South Wales Main Line.

Mr Waters said this urban network could include a new station at Cockett as part of a Swansea to Burry Port service.

He added: “Another service to be further explored could operate from Pontarddulais via the Swansea District Line and a new connection to the South Wales Main Line near Briton Ferry, via Neath, to Swansea High Street.

“This would also require additional stations potentially at locations such as Morriston, Llandarcy, Landore, Felindre and Penllergaer.”

Mr Waters, who represents Llanelli, said new South Wales Main Line services and infrastructure from the Severn Tunnel to Pembrokershire would also be explored.

The Welsh Government wants a new station at St Clears, Carmarthenshire – one of four new stations in Wales which the UK Government is considering.

Mr Waters said integrated bus services in Swansea Bay were also being developed.

Earlier this month Carmarthenshire Council’s executive board backed calls for the Amman Valley Railway to be included within any expanded network.

There has also been debate over a proposed West Wales parkway station at Felindre, Swansea.

It all makes for a comprehensive transport proposition, but funding is key.

Transport consultant Mark Barry, who has been involved in the South West Metro from the outset, said funding was the “elephant in the room”.

“The Welsh Government has made very strong representations over the last three years for devolved rail infrastructure powers and funding,” said Professor Barry.

“It can only spend a few million pounds.”

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