Welsh Valleys electrification gets go ahead but few details

Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced a £230m funding package to electrify the Welsh Valley lines.

There is a £125m UK government contribution towards electrification of the Welsh Valley suburban lines around Cardiff, and £105m to electrify the Cardiff to Bridgend section of the Great Western Main Line (which also carries local traffic).

“I am delighted to announce that we are going to press ahead with electrification,” said Cameron. “After years of neglect, this part of Wales will finally get the infrastructure it needs with faster, more modern, more efficient trains, and the impact will be huge.”

However, details at the Welsh end are scant. LTT approached the Welsh government for particulars about its financial contribution to the scheme only to draw a complete blank.  Likewise the schedule for commencement and completion of works is not yet known.  However, some progress appears to have been made as London and Cardiff seem to have patched up previous disagreements over funding.

A BBC report put total funding of the scheme at £500m. If correct, that would mean the Welsh government having to stump up around £270m for the balance.

The Valleys Line electrification is based on the 2012 business plan.  That envisaged wiring up the following routes: the Vale of Glamorgan (including the Barry and Penarth lines); the Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil lines; the Rhymney and Ebbw Vale lines; the City line (including Cardiff Bay and Coryton); and Bridgend to Maesteg line.

The current services are operated by ageing and unpopular ‘pacer’ and ‘sprinter’ diesel multiple units.

The existing Wales and Border rail franchise – managed by the Welsh government – expires in 2018. Cardiff wants more devolved powers incorporated into the new franchise, probably to include train procurement and service specification. However, the high electrification costs will have to be recouped through higher subsidises to the new franchise operator, or by charging higher passenger fares, or from a combination of both measures.

The Welsh Valleys electrification does not cover the Ebbw Vale branch (shown here) or the Maesteg and Vale of Glamorgan lines
The Welsh Valleys electrification will be incomplete and now will not cover the Ebbw Vale branch (shown here) or the Maesteg and Vale of Glamorgan lines

661/Nov 14

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