Home » Celebration as passengers start to benefit from multi-million-pound upgrade of Ebbw Vale railway line
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Celebration as passengers start to benefit from multi-million-pound upgrade of Ebbw Vale railway line

The completion of the multi-million-pound transformation of the Ebbw Vale line has been celebrated, following the introduction of direct train services between Ebbw Vale Town and Newport.

Representatives from Network Rail, Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and the local community – including children from St Illtyd’s Primary School – marked the end of the project at an event in Llanhilleth yesterday.

After a reception at Llanhilleth Miners Institute, Welsh Government deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters cut a ribbon and unveiled a plaque on the new platform at Llanhilleth as those who made the project possible – and those who will benefit from the upgrades – came together to officially recognise the improvements.

The celebration marks the end of a two-year project which saw teams from Network Rail, Siemens and AmcoGiffen deliver a package of upgrades including:

  • The final 1.5 km of track upgrades between Crosskeys and Crumlin to complete a seven-mile loop for trains to pass between Crosskeys and Aberbeeg
  • An additional platform each at Newbridge and Llanhilleth stations
  • A footbridge with lifts at Llanhilleth making the station fully accessible for the first time
  • A new signalling system around the Park Junction area to help improve the resilience and reliability of passenger and freight journeys

It is all part of the significant investment to provide an hourly service between Newport and Ebbw Vale Town – the first direct services between the locations in more than 60 years. Direct hourly trains will continue to run between Ebbw Vale Town and Cardiff, effectively doubling the number of trains serving the valley.

The £70m brand-new track and station enhancements have been funded by the Welsh Government via a loan to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, with the Department for Transport and Network Rail providing a further £22m to deliver signalling upgrades and the replacement of Crumlin River bridge.

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The project also saw the widening and replacement of the railway bridge over Bridge Street, Newbridge, together with completion of significant embankment strengthening works along the line.

While most of the work has now been completed, follow-up work will continue on the track up and down the Ebbw Vale line, with the majority taking place overnight to minimise disruption to services. There will also be full-day closures of the line on the following Sundays, which will mean buses replacing trains between Ebbw Vale Town and Cardiff Central/Newport: 11, 18 and 25 February.

Network Rail’s route director for Wales and Borders Nick Millington said: “I’m delighted that we could be joined by the Deputy Minister for Climate Change to celebrate what has been a truly collaborative effort to improve the Ebbw Vale line.

“I am pleased that along with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport, we have been able to make significant improvements for passengers along the Ebbw Vale line.

“Passengers will not only benefit from additional services but also a more reliable railway.”

Welsh Government deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters said: “I’m so pleased the service between Ebbw Vale and Newport is finally in place. It has taken a long time and required a lot of investment but the doubling of the frequency of trains will make a difference to all the communities along the route. This would not have happened without the Welsh Government stepping in with investment.

“At a time when we are used to big infrastructure projects going over time and over budget, we should applaud the fact this complicated project has been on time and within budget. My huge thanks to Blaenau Gwent Council, Network Rail and Transport for Wales for working together to pull this off.

“People will now be able to travel direct to Newport or Cardiff every hour, on new track and in new trains.”

Alexia Course, chief commercial officer at Transport for Wales, said: “The station here looks brilliant, and it’s great to see the results of all the hard work delivered by the teams who have been out in all weathers building and transforming the line.

“For a project of this size, it has been a credit to everyone involved how smoothly and collaboratively it has been delivered, so a big thank you to everyone who played a part.”

Councillor John Morgan, Cabinet member, Place and Regeneration and Economic Development at Blaenau Gwent Council, said: I am pleased that this much-improved rail service is now up and running thanks to the council working in collaboration with our partners in Welsh Government, Network Rail and Transport for Wales. Improving and delivering accessible public transport is a key priority for the council.

A more frequent rail service will no doubt improve opportunities for inward investment, access to employment both within and outside of the local area and improves public transport for everyone in Blaenau Gwent. The new direct rail service to Newport will also make it easier for those people looking to make connections as they travel to other destinations for leisure and business.”