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Major funding boost for Welsh rail network

Words: Roger Milne
Newport Station

A massive scheme to modernise railways across South Wales is to go ahead after the end of a long-running dispute between the UK and Welsh governments over who will fund the project.

On a visit to Newport today (21 November) Prime Minister David Cameron was due to unveil a £230 million funding package that will see the UK Government contribute £125 million to the Valley Lines electrification scheme, while also covering the full costs of electrifying the Great Western mainline to Swansea.

The Welsh Government, which will take over sponsorship and delivery of the Valley Lines project, will be liable for the remaining cost, estimated at around an extra £170 million. It said this could be financed “at no net cost”.

Cameron claimed the impact of the decision would be “huge”, while First Minister Carwyn Jones said it would help deliver the “the efficient and reliable rail service Wales needs and deserves”.

Meanwhile, control over the Wales and the Borders rail franchise will be devolved, so that the Welsh Government chooses an operator after Arriva Trains Wales’s contract runs out in 2018.

Work could start on Valley Lines electrification as early as 2019. The move would cut journey times from both Merthyr Tydfil and Treherbert to Cardiff to less than 50 minutes.

Image courtesy of Gareth Lovering