If the Welsh Labour Government in Cymru / Wales was looking for a good day to bury bad news for the people of Newport then perhaps Wednesday 28th August was probably a good day.
I mention this because back in April 2017, a list of 12 potential new and revived railway station sites was made public which would go a long way towards adding connectively to various parts of our country’s poor railway network and potentially reducing road congestion.
On the 28th August 2019, it was revealed that the original list of 12 has now become 4 - when another list of 4 was published. Now this is not a definitive list, and there are no guarantees that these 4 prospective railway stations will eventually be built or re-opened as they have to go on for yet further assessment in Westminster.
The lucky 4 prospective railway stations are:
- Ely Mill/Victoria Park in Cardiff
- St Clears in Carmarthenshire
- Deeside Industrial Park/Northern Gateway
- Carno in Powys
The railway stations which did not made it through the assessment are:
- Newport Road/Rover Way
- St Mellons
- North Wrexham
- South Wrexham
It is important to remember that control of our railway infrastructure investment is not devolved to Cymru / Wales - a decision largely made by the then Labour Government in Westminster. it still remains with the UK Westminster Government, all the Welsh Labour Government does is draw up a short list of suggestions.
All potential stations go through three stages of assessment.
- The first looks at Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance criteria and consideration of the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act.
- The second looks at the strength of the financial and economic case for a new station and advice from Network Rail on deliverability.
- The third is "development and assessment of the highest priorities".
To help narrow the list down, station demand forecasts were drawn up which are designed to give a likely viability of proposed stations. This may actually sound a more scientific and rational process than it is. It is worth remembering that the anticipated number of passengers who were expected to travel on the reopened Ebbw Vale line to Cardiff in 12 months travelled on the new service in the first 4 months.
A word of warning - please don’t hold your breath in anticipation of any regular train service from Ebbw Vale to Newport - we may yet have along wait. The 7,000 + householders who will end up living on the Llanwern site will have no option but to use their cars or the bus service to get to and from work. Not pushing for a railway station at Llanwern will directly impact on the congestion in an around Newport, on the SDR and the existing M4.
Any proposal will only be successful with "a sound business case" and the assessment "increases the ability of station proposals to be in a position to benefit from funding calls" - and that decision will be made in Westminster rather than here in Cymru / Wales. A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The stations that scored the highest in the assessment will now be taken forward. The proposals for the remaining stations will be considered when additional resources become available."
It is also worth noting that the process is ongoing and there is no date for any potential reopening of any station. Considering that for the last 3 years Westminster has been tearing itself apart over BREXIT it would be a safe bet that it may be a while before any Westminster government focuses on Cymru / Wales and our national interests. Decisions about railway infrastructure development need to be made here in Cymru / Wales, not in Westminster.