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Newport Council backs new railway station project to ease M4 congestion

Artist impression of the proposed Somerton Station in Newport (Pic: Transport for Wales)

NEWPORT Council is set to back plans for three new railway stations, aimed at transforming public transport in the city and easing pressure on the M4.

Transport for Wales is currently consulting on proposals to build a series of new stations along the South Wales Main Line.

Three of those would be in Newport – located in Llanwern, Maesglas, and Somerton.

Together with an extra station at each side of the city, they will form a so-called “rail backbone” for the region by “significantly increasing the capacity and flexibility” of the main line route.

Increasing the main line’s passenger capacity was the main recommendation of the Burns commission set up after Mark Drakeford cancelled the M4 relief road project for Newport.

Artist impression of the proposed Somerton Station in Newport (Pic: Transport for Wales)

The commission was asked to come up with public transport alternatives to a new road, and backed rail investment as the best way to alleviate congestion problems on the existing motorway.

In its draft consultation response, Newport City Council said it would “strongly support the proposals for the enhanced transport links”.

The project would “increase the opportunity for more sustainable travel within and beyond” the city’s boundaries, and “enhance opportunities to access to employment, healthcare and leisure facilities”.

Park and ride services at the new Newport West (Maesglas) and Llanwern stations would “intercept” car trips on the M4, the council added.

Artist impression of the proposed Newport West Station (Pic: Transport for Wales)

The proposed Newport West station, built near the Newport Saracens RFC ground, includes 250 parking spaces, a bus link, and a connection to Lighthouse Road in Duffryn.

The council said the site “offers an opportunity to provide excellent connections” for walking and cycling.

Plans for a new Somerton station, off Fairfax Road, include 50 parking spaces and a drop-off/pick-up area.

But this site is “in close proximity to residential properties”, the council said, and “it would be preferable if there were no car parking provision and that active travel (walking and cycling) options are considered as an alternative”.

The site of the proposed Llanwern station “offers a significant opportunity to attract modal shift from the M4”, and includes plans for up to 1,000 parking spaces – although 750 of those would not be surfaced.

Artist impression of the proposed Llanwern Station in Newport (Pic: Transport for Wales)

The council said this “relative lack of formal car parking provision” could discourage proper parking and a poor road surface could damage vehicles.

It also said there was “limited opportunity” for parking north of the station, which could increase “illegal parking” or parking in residential areas.

Looking at the whole project, however, the draft report notes the council is “supportive of the general principles for enhanced services and the three stations in our administrative area”.

The council’s cabinet member for infrastructure is expected to sign off on the consultation response next week.