THE Welsh Government has now called on the UK Government to “act at speed to play its part” in the delivery of a world-leading rail testing centre in South West Wales project with the submission of an outline business case as well as local approval for the land.

Both Powys County Council and Neath Port Talbot have now approved consent for the earthworks for the Global Centre of Rail Excellence, to be built at the mothballed opencast mine at Nant Helen and the nearby coal washery site at Onllwyn.

The Global Centre for Rail Excellence would create a world-leading facility for research, development and testing of rail technology. Planned benefits include cost savings to the UK rail sector, reducing disruption and enhancing benefits for passengers.

It would also bring jobs and economic development to the surrounding communities, both in the construction phase and through the establishment of long-term high quality jobs.

It is another step forward for the project after, earlier this month, the Welsh Government submitted the Outline Business Case for the Centre to the UK Government. The document set out the delivery programme and next steps.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, commented:

“This project goes hand in hand with improving the efficiency, performance and capacity of our railways. It has been developed following a clear need identified by the rail industry.

“There will also be important benefits for the communities that surround the planned facility. Jobs will be brought to the area and the project can be an important part of the long-term economic recovery from Covid-19.

“This has been a positive month for the project and the initial local approval is a positive step. Following this, I now hope the UK Government will act at speed to play its part in delivering something that will benefit both Wales and the United Kingdom.

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