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Concerns raised over new train station priority at South Wales Mainline consultation

Monmouthshire County Council

HOPES for a new train station to relieve traffic on the M4 are tied to others proposed for the South Wales Mainline, councillors have heard. 

Welsh Government owned not-for-profit firm Transport for Wales is running a consultation until January 14 on five new stations planned between Cardiff Central and Severn Tunnel Junction as well as increased cross border train services. 

It has produced standard designs for proposed stations at Cardiff East (Newport Road), Newport West, Somerton, Llanwern, and Magor and Undy. 

But a councillor who was a founding member of the community group that has for a decade campaigned for a new ‘walkway station’ in Magor and Undy – which commuters would walk or cycle to rather than drive to make their onward rail journeys – has questioned why it hasn’t been given priority. 

Independent councillor for Magor West Frances Taylor said Monmouthshire County Council had earlier this year restated its commitment that it supports prioritising the Magor and Undy Walkway Station, of the five proposed for the line, as an achievable solution to easing traffic on the M4. 

They have been proposed as part of the South-East Wales Transport Commission’s recommendations for tacking congestion on the motorway and Cllr Taylor believes the Magor station should be developed before the others. Campaigners say it could be delivered within the current railway infrastructure. 

She told a council scrutiny meeting considering Monmouthshire council’s own transport plan responsibility for “agitating” for the new station has now passed, from the campaign group, to the council but she isn’t clear of what the authority is doing to “push that forward”. 

She described the proposed station designs as a “one size fits all” approach and said: “That’s not what we wanted so I look forward to a really good response to the consultation on the new stations from Monmouthshire council.” 

Cllr Frances Taylor is the member for Magor West and leader of the Independent Group on Monmouthshire County Council

Debra Hill-Howells, the council’s head of decarbonisation and transport, said it sits on the Burns Delivery Unit, which is supposed to deliver the new stations, and said: “We are continually lobbying Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government about our aspirations to bring forward Magor Walkway as quickly as possible.” 

She said the intention is after the current consultation has closed it will submit a bid to the UK Government’s Department for Transport, but said the Burns Delivery Unit “want to go forward with a collective bid on all five stations. 

“We have discussed about the possibility of bringing Magor forward. Their view, and the proposal they are going forward with, is it has to be done all five together. They believe that is the best way of being able to realise the funding for all five and that they are all interdependent on improvements to the South Wales Mainline and the Marches Mainline. 

“We do write to them frequently and will continue to ensure that it is a walkway station, they have confirmed in writing that that is set in stone.” 

She also said the council has been consulting on a “parking strategy” to prevent rail commuters using local streets for parking and it is agreed those restrictions should be in place before a station is built “so that we do not try to be changing behaviour post event, we do it before the event.” 

It has been estimated that before the 2020 Covid pandemic around 40,000 rail journeys a year were made from Severn Tunnel Junction by people from Magor and Undy, resulting in around 80,000 car journeys, there and back meaning a new station designed to encourage people to walk or cycle to it would relief pressure on the road network and eliminate some car journeys.