blank
Connect with us

Transport

All signals go: new world-class rail testing centre given green light

Published

on

A new world-class rail testing facility on a former opencast mining site at the head of the Dulais and Swansea valleys has been given the seal of approval by local councillors.

The Global Centre of Rail Excellence – a train, rail infrastructure and technology testing facility – will be located on the site of Nant Helen opencast mine in Onllwyn, which is currently operated by Celtic Energy.

The centre will provide a unique capability in the UK and Europe. It will support innovation in the UK and international rail industry by serving as a testbed for cutting-edge, green technologies, which will act as a driver for accelerated innovation in the rail industry.

It will put Wales on the map as the go-to country for UK and international train manufacturers, network operators, the wider industry, supply chain and academia, to research, test and develop innovative new technologies that underpin de-carbonisation and development for the global rail industry. It will also be a magnet project for further new opportunities, bringing more quality jobs and investment to our communities.

The Welsh Government has developed the idea for the centre from scratch and has engaged with experts from across the global rail industry to bring it to this point.  In a further sign of the Welsh Government’s confidence in the project, it is investing £50m to support the delivery of the new facility. The UK Government has also pledged to invest £30m in the project.

Members of the planning committees at Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Powys County Council have this week given the project the final go-ahead.

Advertisement

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “I’m delighted the new Global Centre of Rail Excellence in Onllwyn has been granted planning permission by Councillors at Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Powys County Council.

“The new centre will help create the next generation of high quality jobs, attracting new investment and opportunities for local people, driving new technologies and innovation, and helping us to realise our ambition of creating a stronger and more prosperous economy, in a greener, cleaner and stronger Wales.

“The Welsh Government’s commitment to developing this world-class facility is clear. We’ve have made £50m available to bring this important facility to the Dulais and Swansea valleys, as part of wider plans to transform valley communities.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing the project progressing at pace over the coming months.”

The Welsh Government has been working in partnership with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Powys County Council to develop proposals for the GCRE. A joint venture was established in 2019 between Welsh Government and both Powys and Neath Port Talbot councils to support project development and delivery. The proposals are the result of collaborative working with partners and extensive engagement and consultation with stakeholders and local communities.

A land option deal has been completed for the sites at the Nant Helen surface mine and Onllwyn coal washery, which will see Celtic Energy gift all the land necessary for the project.

Advertisement
(Left to right) NPT Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Leanne Jones, Celtic Energy CEO, Will Watson, NPT Council Leader Cllr Ted Latham and the council’s Chief Executive Officer Karen Jones at the site of the planned GCRE at the Nant Helen open cast mine (Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

Speaking at the site of the planned rail testing centre on the former Nant Helen open cast coal mine, the Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Latham said: “After granting planning permission for this important project this council is now gearing up to support the GCRE as it moves towards its next phase of development.

“When completed, this centre will provide a unique capability in the UK and Europe to support innovation in the British and international rail industry.

“Very much in line with this council’s Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy Strategy (DARE) the centre will involve the testing of cutting-edge technologies making future rail transport cleaner and greener.

“It will have a transformational effect on the surrounding area and also the region as a whole, creating high quality new jobs and opening the way for further investment.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

Published

on

By

Brand new trains that aim to transform services across Wales and the English borders have been on show today at Chester railway station.

Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag was revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.

Advertisement

TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.

Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including services in South West Wales – Manchester to Milford Haven, Cardiff to Fishguard and Swansea to Pembroke Dock.

Offering leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens, the new trains will transform the customer experience. They’ve also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network. These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”

Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.

Advertisement

“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.

Richard Garner, UK Director CAF said: “CAF is thrilled that the first of our Class 197 trains for the Wales and Borders network has been officially launched.

“We are immensely proud of our key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ vision to transform rail travel for passengers.

Advertisement

“The manufacture of our trains is taking place at our state-of-the-art facility in Newport, South Wales. We see ourselves as a local manufacturer, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing employment opportunities to the local area whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.

Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

Continue Reading

Cardiff Airport

Aer Lingus restarts Cardiff to Belfast flights

Published

on

By

Through its partner Emerald Airlines, Irish airline Aer Lingus has restarted domestic UK flights between Belfast in Northern Ireland and Welsh capital, Cardiff.

Aer Lingus Regional operator, Emerald Airlines will link the two capital cities five times weekly from 7 July.

Advertisement

Flights are now on sale and available to book at aerlingus.com, with fares starting from £39.99.

Emerald Airlines opened its base at Belfast City, just five minutes from the city centre, earlier this year. Cardiff’s inclusion in the airline’s latest expansion at the Welsh Government owned airport, which it says is great news for passengers wanting to re-unite with friends and family, fly for business and sports travel or explore Belfast on a city break.

“Thanks a million to Emerald Airlines for announcing that it will restart the critical connection between Cardiff and Belfast under the Aer Lingus banner,” said Marc Watkins, Aviation Development Manager at Cardiff Airport

“It’s great that our customers looking to fly between Wales and Northern Ireland no longer have to travel via England. The schedule and days of the week that flights are being operated are fantastic – whether you’re catching up with friends and relatives, needing to travel between the two cities for work, or for tourists visiting Belfast to enjoy the craic.”

With the recent opening of the highly anticipated Game of Thrones Studio Tour in nearby Banbridge, the timing of the start of the service could not be better. Other attractions in Belfast and the surrounding area include the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction and the natural beauty of the Giant’s Causeway near Coleraine.

Advertisement

Commenting on the announcement, Ciarán Smith, Head of Commercial at Emerald Airlines said: “As we near the peak summer months, the launch of our Cardiff services will provide those travelling to Belfast with more choice when planning their holidays. When quick getaways are on the top of everyone’s mind, we are offering convenient timings and low fares, increasing connectivity to and from Northern Ireland.

“We are extremely pleased with the feedback we have received since beginning our operations from Belfast City Airport and believe Cardiff is a great new connection that will cater to both business and leisure travellers with direct, convenient and cost-effective flights to the Northern Irish capital.”

Flights from Cardiff to Belfast depart at 12.00pm on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week.

Flights from Belfast depart at 10.10am on the same days.

(Lead image: Cardiff Airport / Aer Lingus / Emerald Airlines)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Great Western Railway

Severn Rail Tunnel to close for engineering works

Published

on

By

Trains that run through the Severn Tunnel between Bristol and South Wales will be affected as part of an ongoing programme of rail improvement work this July.

Network Rail say they will carry out essential track maintenance as well as testing the electrical power supply in the tunnel in July.

Advertisement

The work will see more than two miles of track, sleepers and ballast (the stones on the railway) replaced to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of the railway.

The new track will also enable the removal of a temporary 50mph speed restriction through the tunnel, improving passenger’s journeys and reducing the risk of infrastructure faults.

The track work will affect Great Western Railway services from Friday 1 to Sunday 10 July.

David Bailey, GWR’s customer service manager for South Wales, said: “The work inside the Severn Tunnel will support our train service in Wales, especially those trains running under electric power serving Cardiff Central and Newport.

“We will divert long-distance trains via an alternative route and provide road transport between Newport and Bristol Parkway to ensure customers can complete their journeys.”

Advertisement

Trains between London and South Wales will use an alternative route between Swindon and Newport, stopping at Gloucester instead of Bristol Parkway.

A limited train service will still run between London Paddington and Bristol Parkway on weekdays only, otherwise they will travel via Bristol Temple Meads instead.

Buses will replace trains between Bristol Parkway and Newport, with customers advised to plan their journey beforehand.

In addition, buses will also replace trains at Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road for Filton Abbey Wood or Bristol Parkway on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 July.

Follow-up engineering work is planned that will affect trains between Bristol and South Wales on Sunday 17 July and again on Sunday 14 August (until midday).

Advertisement

Mark Dix, Project Manager at Network Rail, said: “The Severn Tunnel is a vital rail link for passengers travelling between Wales and England, so it is extremely important that we invest in its future.

“Once this work is finished, passengers travelling via Bristol Parkway will experience fewer delays with much more reliable journeys.

“I appreciate that this work is going to cause some disruption for passengers, so I would like to thank them in advance for their patience.”

(Lead image: Network Rail / GWR)

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News