£343m infrastructure boost for Welsh railways

Cardiff Central station upgrade one of a raft of schemes set to benefit from combined £343m investment.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced a raft of Welsh railway projects set for a boost as part of a £343m UK government investment to help deliver better journeys for passengers.

The schemes to be funded include kickstarting the design of the Cardiff Central station upgrade, advancing plans for cutting-edge digital signalling on the Cambrian line and speeding up journeys between Cardiff and Swansea.

Work on a new, modern design for Cardiff Central station will be funded through the release of £5.8m. It will focus on improving access and ensuring platforms are suited for longer trains, boosting space and capacity for passengers.

The transport secretary has also announced £3m to advance plans for upgraded signalling on the 241-kilometre Cambrian line from Shrewsbury Sutton Bridge Junction to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. The planned state-of-the-art digital signalling system will modernise the network, improving the reliability of services, and support the introduction of a new fleet being rolled out across the network in December 2022.

In addition, almost £2m has been made available for the next phase of development work on proposals to speed up journeys between Cardiff and Swansea, Chester and Llandudno Junction, and the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff, through better-aligned tracks and exploring putting additional services on the lines.

The announcement of these new projects follows major reforms to the network over the past months such as completion of a fully electric route between Cardiff and London and the devolution of powers over the Core Valley line to the Welsh government.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “The host of improvements we are delivering across Wales, from huge infrastructure upgrades to creating new and modern stations, are vital to deliver better, quicker and more convenient journeys for passengers within, into and out of Wales.

“We want to transform travel for passengers and, as we build back better from Covid-19, we will ensure our investment helps to level up all parts of the UK.”

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO added: “At Transport for Wales we are continuing with our investment programme and in the last financial year we spent £796m transforming our rail services. This included £516m acquiring the Core Valleys Lines, £187m on the Wales and Borders rail service and an additional £28m on projects and service operation.

“At the start of the year we opened our Metro Infrastructure Hub in Treforest and construction has begun on our £100m Metro Control Centre in Taff’s Well as we continue to deliver the South Wales Metro that will bring social, economic, recreational and cultural benefits to the people of Wales. We welcome any further funding as we move forward with our transformational plans.”

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