Call to ditch £5m plan for Abertillery railway spur because UK Gov hasn’t provided funding
Elgan Hearn, local democracy service
Questions have been raised on the future of plans to restore a rail link to Abertillery because the UK Government has not provided the necessary funding.
Abertillery has been without a rail service of its own since the town’s train station closed to passengers in 1962, and to all services in 1969.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Labour group leader Cllr Steve Thomas suggested that it was now time to look for other projects to invest in.
The discussion took place as councillors looked at a report on the performance of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal and the progress of projects under way in the county borough during 2020 and up to the middle of 2021.
This includes the Metro Plus rail link from Cardiff to Ebbw Vale. The rail link to Abertillery, which is estimated to cost £5 million, would be a bonus scheme and needs funding from elsewhere.
The report says that “progress” is being made on this project.
Cllr Thomas said: “As I understand it there’s nothing concrete at all from Her Majesty’s (UK) Government for funding that particular venture.
“If there’s not going to be something tangible we should invest money elsewhere.”
Blaeanau Gwent’s director of regeneration and community services, Richard Crook said: “Conversations are ongoing with UK Government, they announced last year a programme called Restoring your Railways (RYR).
“This sought bids from across the UK as part of the levelling up agenda for railways to be developed.
“Whether it’s new station, extension track or reopening of a railway.
“As part of that, Welsh Government submitted a number of schemes for consideration and the Abertillery spur was one of those.
“There is ongoing dialogue between UK and Welsh Government civil servants about this scheme.
“We’re waiting an announcement in the Restore Your Railways programme from the UK Government to give us an indication of where this scheme is in terms of their funding.”
He confirmed that the Abertillery spur is not part of the £70 million project Ebbw Vale railway project.
Cllr Thomas said: “We cannot definitively say today we are anywhere nearer now than five years ago in terms of funding.
“If we are not making progress it’s on us to get back in there (City Deal) and get something else for the borough.”
“We’re stuck on this project which is just dwindling.”
Mr Crook disagreed and pointed out there was a “series of stages” that are needed to go through to secure funding for railway projects.
Mr Crook explained the project was now at a design work stage which would produce “cost certainty” for bids.
“We are closer than we have been as we own the Abertillery station site,” added Mr Crook.
The report was noted by councillors.
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