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Sunday, 4 February, 2001, 13:23 GMT
Rail link urged for 'blighted' steel town
Steel picture
Ebbw Vale faces an uncertain future without steel
Calls have been made to re-open the rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport, following the announcement by Corus that it is to close the Ebbw Valley steelworks.

The Rail Development Society Wales has called for trains between the town and Newport to be reinstated as soon as possible.

The town lost its passenger rail link in 1962, when Dr Beeching made sweeping cuts in Britain's rail infrastructure.

Corus's decision to shut its finishing plant at Ebbw Vale within two years - with the loss of 780 jobs - has dealt a severe blow to the community.

Thousands more jobs were cut at Llanwern, near Newport, Shotton and Gorseinon.

The steelworks is the sole reason why the railway is still present in the valley

Peter Clark, Rail Development Society Wales
But the isolated position of Ebbw Vale and high unemployment levels has caused particular concern, with many concerned at the prospect of attracting new employment to the area.

In the 1960s, the plant there employed 14,500 people and the beginning of the end began when steel production ended there.

The steel mills which closed in the 1980s were later replaced with trees as the site of a national garden festival.

Vital link

The rail pressure group said its proposal to re-open the line between Newport, Cardiff, Ebbw Vale and Abertillery was essential for the economic prospects of the Ebbw Valley.

The group's chairman, Peter Clark, said good public transport links were vital to help the community.

"The railway between Newport and Ebbw Vale should be re-opened without delay to help with the regeneration of the area," he said.

"We are writing to the National Assembly, urging it to include the Ebbw Vale rail re-opening scheme in whatever aid package it draws up to assist in regeneration of what is already a socially-deprived area."

Mr Clark added: "The steelworks is the sole reason why the railway is still present in the valley.

"We will campaign for retention of the track if there is still no commitment to restoring passenger trains, by the time the steelworks close."

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See also:

01 Feb 01 | Wales
'Betrayal' of a nation
01 Feb 01 | Business
Outcry over Corus job cuts
21 Jul 00 | Wales
Axe to fall on 1,300 steel jobs
16 Jun 00 | Business
Corus counts sterling cost
06 Dec 00 | Wales
Steel industry job fears
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