A £70 MILLION loan will be offered to Blaenau Gwent council to take forward plans to restore the rail line between Newport and Ebbw Vale.
The funding will enable the long-awaited restoration of direct rail links between Newport and Ebbw Vale.
Welsh Government has announced the funding as part of its recently published new transport strategy.
The interest-free loan will enable infrastructure improvements to be taken forward alongside Network Rail and Transport for Wales.
In a ministerial statement, the Welsh Government said the work will “secure the additional service between Newport and Ebbw Vale, and help unlock our jointly held aspirations to re-open the spur to Abertillery ultimately increasing services to four trains per hour”.
Jayne Bryant, MS for Newport West, said:
“After campaigning for years on this I am absolutely delighted that the Newport to Ebbw Vale line will re-open.
“It has been a long time coming but it will now not only link up the Gwent valleys to Newport but Rogerstone and Pye Corner to the city centre.”
Campaigners have long called for the link, which was closed to passengers in April 1962, to be restored.
It was previously announced, as part of the new Wales and Borders rail contract run by Transport for Wales, that direct rail links between Newport and Ebbw Vale would be restored this year.
John Griffiths, MS for Newport East, said the announcement was “brilliant news”.
“I am pleased Welsh Government have recognised the economic and social potential of this route – and the direct link will now open up new opportunities for people in both areas,” he said.
“By integrating and joining up our public transport networks between Newport and our towns and villages in the valleys, the more likely people will be to use public transport, which is critical to reducing our carbon emissions targets and reducing air pollution in South East Wales.”
The new funding forms part of a £210-million investment across Wales aimed at increasing the number of people using public transport, walking and cycling.
The transport strategy aims to encourage people out of their cars, with a new target for 45 per cent of journeys to be by sustainable means across Wales by 2045, up from 32 per cent currently.