Network Rail plan to ease Cardiff & valleys congestion

The company says the proposals will ease congestion in Cardiff and the south Wales valleys

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Details of a £200m plan to ease railway congestion in Cardiff and the south Wales valleys have been revealed.

Network Rail says its improvements to stations, lines and signalling equipment could double the rail capacity of the region by 2015.

Passenger demand in Cardiff and the valleys is increasing at 8% on average each year, it said.

Consumer group Passenger Focus hailed the plan as good news for rail travellers in Wales.

Network Rail, which owns and operates Britain's rail infrastructure, predicted that the number of passengers travelling in Cardiff and the valleys would exceed 12m per year by the end of 2015.

It said some 900 trains already travelled daily through the Cardiff area, but the railway needed more capacity by the end of the decade.

The changes would remove the rail bottleneck on the Cardiff city line, said Network Rail, allowing an extra four trains an hour to run through the area.

Start Quote

This initiative will help the railway manage the increasing numbers of passengers longer-term”

End Quote Anthony Smith Passenger Focus

This would allow for more and longer trains to run on the valley lines, with 600 more seats during rush hours.

More freight trains would run in Cardiff, boosting the business sector, and more robust and efficient signalling equipment would improve reliability of services.

Mike Gallop of Network Rail said the plan would help unlock the untapped potential of the area, meeting a growing demand and paving the way for electrification.

"Wales relies on rail - a reliable and robust railway forms a key pillar for a healthy economy and this scheme will help Wales continue to thrive," he said.

PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS

New look for Queen Street station
  • CARDIFF:
  • Extra platform at Cardiff Central
  • Refurbished southern entrance at Cardiff Central
  • Two extra platforms at Queen Street
  • Extra bay platform at Queen Street for Cardiff Bay shuttle service
  • Refurbished Queen Street station with new entrance (pictured above)
  • Doubling of the Treforest Curve (Cardiff West Junction to Ninian Park) to enable improved frequency of trains onto/from the City lines
  • BARRY:
  • Extra platform at Barry station
  • Upgraded freight line at Cogan Junction to enable passenger trains
  • RHYMNEY VALLEY:
  • Extra platform and passing loop at Tir-phil
  • Extra platform at Caerphilly
  • PONTYPRIDD:
  • Extra platform and passing loop at Pontypridd
  • Source: Network Rail

The main engineering work will begin by autumn 2011 and is planned to be completed within three years and in time for new trains to be introduced to the valleys by 2018.

Network Rail is currently tendering for different contractors, including signalling, buildings and track, to help deliver the scheme.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, welcomed the investment.

"This is a good news story for passengers travelling in Wales," he said.

"Passengers tell us that frequent services and getting a seat are among their top priorities for improvement.

"Forecasts show that the railway is getting busier and this initiative will help the railway manage the increasing numbers of passengers longer-term."

Plans to electrify the Great Western main line between Cardiff and London were announced by the UK government last month.

In February proposals were published for the Cardiff Metro, a system of electrified rail and tram services providing a faster link between Cardiff, Newport and the valleys.

We asked you for your commuting experiences in Cardiff and the valleys.

So the Maesteg line loses out again. The track is so bad on this line that, in parts, the speed limit is still 5 mph. It is single track which linits the service to just about a single train every hour.

Welsheagle, Maesteg,

I regularly travel between North Wales and Cardiff. I'm pleased that work is being done to improve the Valleys lines, but we desperately need improvement to the North/South infrastructure. It takes around 4 hours to travel between Colwyn Bay and Cardiff, meaning journeys often start at 5.30am. It would be good to know that the powers that be recognise the existence of North Wales and the need for people up here to be able to commute south. It is generally expected that we will travel south rather than those in the south travelling north.

John Reaney, Colwyn Bay,

Having recently stopped commuting into Cardiff from Taffs Well for over thirty years, all I can say is "here we go again". From the replacement of old rolling stock with old Sprinters,three coaches to two, to the fairly recent new signalling works and even more recent extension of platform length, there has been no real or sustainable improvement in the Valley Lines service. Anyone who had to wait over three hours at Cathays/Queen Street station because of a fault somewhere during the winter snow can testify to this.

Stuart Rose, Gwaelod-y-Garth, Cardiff,

Any investment is excellent news,but they need to remove the bottleneck on the mainline to the east of Cardiff Central. There is little more frustrating than being able to see the station but standing for up to 15 minutes outside it while waiting for a platform. Also, a message to anyone responsible for transport planning in South Wales - we need a multi-modal travel card which can be used on all buses (regardless of operator) and on trains. That might make commuting on public transport a little more affordable.

Bob, Cardiff,

I travel daily into Cardiff. It would be nice to see 4 carriages on every journey instead of 2, reducing the number of passengers standing, before huge amounts of funding are poured into the upgrading work at the rear of Cardiff Central Station

Denise, Pontypridd,

What really needs to be done is for the line from Porth to Ystrad Rhondda to be doubled again, this is one of the biggest obstacles to recovering from delays on the network. All platforms on the Valleys have been extended to accomodate six car trains but unfortunately the government ensured First Great Western got all the extra units that were due to be sent to Arriva to provide the extra capacity during rush hour.

SW, Caerphilly,

There really needs to be a train station in the east of Cardiff, like Newport Road or St Mellons. People who want to take the train have to get a bus into the city.

Gary Ford, Cardiff,

Nice to see some investment in the area at last. However I have to agree with the idea posted here to double the Rhondda line. Not just to Ystrad though, but all to way to Treherbert. Also, I may be wrong, but I am sure Pontypridd had a passing loop until around 10 years ago anyway. So why was it taken away only for a new one to be put in now?

Marc, Rhondda,

I would like to see a breakdown of the costs for these plans. Judging by the picture for Cardiff Central there's going to be a fair amount of cosmetic work going on for the outside - is it necessary? No point having a pretty, arty exterior when the inside is nothing to shout about.

Jay,

I'm a regular user of the Coryton service, and apart from the very occasional catastrophes, like the signal failure last month,and the snow problems around Christmas the service is good and well used. But we don't have trains on Sundays, and with the increase of passenger numbers we've seen in the last 5 years it must be financially viable to provide at least an hourly schedule. Currently we're isolated from the Bay and mainline trains on Sundays. So please planners, give us a 7 day service.

Nanty1, Rhiwbina, Cardiff,

It still amazes me the time it takes to complete these works. Are we supposed to be excited about changes completing in seven years time!? More piecemeal approaches by an inefficient monopoly that is Network Rail.

Donnie, Merthyr,

Wouldn't it be a better idea to focus on getting trains to run to the timetable first before throwing cash at expensive exteriors that wont solve anything. I catch the train daily from Porth and it's a miracle when they turn up on time.

James, Porth,

Yet another waste of money like the new proposal for Port Talbot. We do NOT need a multimillion pound space station look, all we want is a seat, and fast efficient services as a priority. The space age look can follow when the service matches. Having travelled on the fastest train in the world (in China at 351kmh = 218mph) I see how far behind we are.

hoperp, Swansea,

Yes what about the Maesteg line. Most of the time it's 2 carriage and only once an hour.

Susan, Pontyclun,

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