The man in charge of developing South Wales’ railway network has welcomed the possibility of congestion-busting new suburban stations in Cardiff.
Last month a report by Cardiff South and Penarth AM Vaughan Gething and transport consultant Mark Barry suggested the development of a £200m “Cardiff Crossrail” featuring new or enhanced stations at places like Ely Bridge, St Mellons, Wedal Road (for Heath Hospital) and Rover Way could be a solution to the capital’s traffic gridlock woes.
They said by adopting European-style tram-train technology, electrified relief lines could provide an east to west service connecting St Mellons to Junction 33 of the M4 while a north to south service could operate from Junction 32 on the Coryton line to Cardiff Bay, interchanging at Callaghan Square.
They argued 150,000 people across Cardiff – especially in the east from Roath to St Mellons – are not connected to the regional rail network.
With 45,500 new homes planned by 2026 in the Local Development Plan, they said Cardiff needs to develop a transport network that can support a city with more than 400,000 people.
And Mark Langman, Network Rail’s route managing director for Wales, yesterday admitted the idea is one which may well be looked at in the future.
Speaking ahead of today’s launch of the company’s strategic business plan for 2014-2019 he said the impending electrification of the Valleys network will provide the prospect of a ‘metro’-style service for the Cardiff city region.
“We are currently spending £220m on re-signalling the Valleys network which will provide commuters with a faster more reliable link into Cardiff. This will give the potential to increase the number of trains from 12 to 16 per hour,” he said.
“The second stage of this is going to be electrifying the Valleys lines which will give us a metro-style service on the existing lines. This plan is about the five years from 2014 but we also have a long term planning process in place which looks at what we need to do in the future.
“That process looks at where the future demand is likely to come from and what the best solution for dealing with that demand might be. For example, aspirations that build on top of electrification, such as Cardiff Crossrail, can be examined as part of the long term planning process.”
Meanwhile, in relation to the long-running saga of the development of a new central bus station in Cardiff, Mr Langman called for more to be done to speed up the process.
“Everyone sees the benefits of the development of the central square and we are keen to work with other parties to develop an integrated transport hub which accommodates a number of different transport modes under one umbrella,” he said.