South Wales Metro
Transport for Wales, the national transport authority
South Wales Metro network
Overview
Native nameMetro De Cymru
OwnerNetwork Rail (present)
Transport for Wales (137km proposed)
LocaleSouth East Wales
Transit typeCommuter rail, Rapid transit tram-train, Bus, BRT
Number of lines9
Number of stations94[1]
Chief executiveJames Price
HeadquartersQED Centre Main Avenue
Treforest Industrial Estate
Pontypridd
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF37 5YR
Websitehttps://gov.wales/south-wales-metro
Operation
Operation will start2023[2]
Operator(s)Transport for Wales
CharacterGrade-separated (present)
At-grade street running (proposed)
Technical
System length85 miles 10 chains (137 km)
No. of tracksDouble track
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The South Wales Metro (Welsh: Metro De Cymru) is an integrated heavy rail, light rail and bus-based public transport services and systems network in South East Wales around the hub of Cardiff Central. The first phase was approved for development in October 2013.[3] Works are currently underway with a brand new depot under construction at Taff's Well and new trains being constructed at the Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) 15,000 sq metre factory in Newport.[4] This will also include the electrification of the core Valley Lines and new stations. This will be the biggest overhaul to the railways of South Wales since their construction 170 years ago.

Background

The rail-based transport system in South Wales was degraded due to the 1960s Beeching cuts. This saw the closure of some lines and many sub-branches serving the mainly ex-mining communities and their easy links to ports and resorts on the coast. Since 1987, five of the main closures have been reversed: services are reinstated on Cardiff's City Line that year, the Aberdare Line the next year, the Maesteg Line in 1992, the Vale of Glamorgan Line between Barry and Bridgend in 2005, and the Ebbw Vale Line in 2008.

Development

In February 2011, Cardiff Business Partnership (CBP) and the Institute of Welsh Affairs published a report by Professor Mark Barry of Cardiff University, calling for an investment of £2.5bn over 10 years to connect Cardiff, Newport and the South Wales Valleys.[5] The report concluded that with the stated investment in a regional metro system, by 2025 it would be possible to travel from the Heads of the Valleys to Cardiff or Newport in 40 minutes, by combining electrified heavy rail and light rail systems and boosted by faster rail links to London and Heathrow Airport.[6][5]

After the Welsh Government, supported by parties including a CBP team led by Mark Barry, lobbied at Westminster for the extension of the Great Western Main Line electrification programme west to Swansea, and north into the South Wales Valleys, Barry developed a more detailed blueprint plan for Cardiff. After internal consultation, this was submitted by CBP to the Welsh Government's Business Minister Edwina Hart in December 2012.[7] The scheme proposed a £200m investment in a Cardiff cross-rail scheme based on trams, between St Mellons in the east via Cardiff Central, south into Cardiff Bay, north to Coryton, converting a number of Valley Lines heavy rail routes to light rail, and a new route north-west via Ely and Radyr Court to the M4 motorway near Creigiau.[7]

From Autumn 2012, Barry led the private sector Metro Consortium, with the common aim of promoting the South Wales Metro project, which included representatives from Capita, Jones Lang LaSalle, The Urbanists and Steer Davies Gleave. They produced a further interim report, "A Cardiff City Region Metro: transform | regenerate | connect" published in February 2013. Hart then commissioned Barry to lead a more detailed analysis of the potential benefits: The Metro Impact Study of October 2013. This more substantive report concluded that an initial £1bn investment in an integrated metro transport network for South East Wales could, within 30 years, add 420,000 people to the network, create 7,000 new jobs and invest an additional £4bn into the regional economy.[8]

In October 2013, after Barry had submitted his report to Hart at the end of summer 2013, the Business Minister endorsed the report. She allocated £62m for phase one of the scheme to improve bus and rail links, including rail infrastructure improvements, station upgrades, park and ride schemes, bus corridors, and walking and cycling schemes.[9] She also set up a working group to examine detailed proposals for the potential subsequent stages of the Cardiff Capital Region Metro system.[3]

Implementation

Llandaf station sign with interim Metro branding, July 2017
Llandaf station sign with interim Metro branding, July 2017

First Minister Carwyn Jones formally launched the South Wales Metro in November 2015, with the Welsh Government setting out its aspirations for the Metro in its November 2015 publication, "Rolling Out Our Metro".[10]

Procurement for the Metro began in July 2016, as part of the procurement process for the next Wales & Borders franchise. This was managed by Transport for Wales.[11] This concluded in May 2018, with the awarding of the franchise to KeolisAmey Wales, trading as Transport for Wales Rail Services, from 14 October 2018.[12]

Details of the £5 billion investment in the Metro were announced in June 2018, which included a fleet of new trains and tram-trains, at least five new stations, an on-street extension of the Cardiff Bay branch, and restoration of services between Ebbw Vale and Newport.[13] In October 2018, £119 million of funding was obtained from the European Union to support the modernisation plans.[14] In January 2019, a new report had proposed several new schemes such as a rail link to Abertillery.[15]

In August 2019 it was announced that work on the project would be delayed, due to "unresolved issues" particularly around maintenance cost estimates,[16] which are preventing sale of the freehold land, buildings, and operational assets, by current owner Network Rail to the Welsh Ministers.[16] The deal will require approval from the Office of Rail & Road before contractor KeolisAmey Wales can undertake work including electrification and other improvements.[16] The project faces a deadline of 2022 for some work, as the work will need to meet the deadline for the £159m in awarded European Regional Development funding, which will not be available after that date due to Brexit.[16]

It was announced that the first work on the project would start on 3 August 2020, beginning with track improvements on lines to Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare and Treherbert.[4] These lines will operate as a rail replacement service between 8 pm and 5 am until December 2020, except on Fridays and Saturdays.[4] The phase two works are scheduled to be completed by 2023.[4]

New fleet

The trainsets will be manufactured by Stadler and delivered by 2023.[17]

Proposed network

Existing rail network

Current proposals

Former proposals

These routes were planned to be developed as high-speed bus routes or light rail/tram-based services – however, they are not currently part of the Metro plans:

References

  1. ^ Valleys & Cardiff Local Routes
  2. ^ https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2018-06/south-wales-metro-brochure.pdf[bare URL]
  3. ^ a b "Plans show the potential of metro network". ITV Wales. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Evening rail disruption as Metro works begin". BBC News. 10 July 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b Barry, Mark. "A Metro for Wales' Capital City Region: Connecting Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys" (PDF). Institute of Welsh Affairs.
  6. ^ "South east Wales 'needs £2.5bn metro rail network'". BBC Wales. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Cardiff 'crossrail' proposals by business lobby". BBC Wales. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  8. ^ Chris Kelsey (22 October 2013). "Edwina Hart gives backing to Cardiff Capital Region Metro system". South Wales Echo. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  9. ^ Chris Kelsey (22 October 2013). "Edwina Hart gives backing to Cardiff Capital Region Metro system". South Wales Echo. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  10. ^ http://gov.wales/docs/det/publications/160224-metro-information-brochure-en.pdf[bare URL]
  11. ^ South Wales Metro consultation to begin Railway Gazette International 30 November 2015
  12. ^ "New £5bn contract to run Wales' trains". BBC News. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  13. ^ "New trains and more services in £5bn deal". BBC News. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  14. ^ Funding secured for South West Metro project Railway Gazette International 4 October 2018
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ a b c d "Network Rail launches sale of Cardiff Valley Lines | Railnews | Today's news for Tomorrow's railway". www.railnews.co.uk. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  17. ^ South Wales Metro ECI contracts awarded, accessed 201-07-16.