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EDITIONS
 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 13:20 GMT
Valleys rail link plans are prepared
Ebbw Vale steelworks
A masterplan for the Corus site is expected soon
A rail plan which will link a south Wales unemployment blackspot to the affluent capital of Cardiff is to be shown to the public this month.

Artists' impressions and large-scale plans of the six rail stations will be unveiled as part of the 27.2m Ebbw Vale to Cardiff rail route on Wednesday 8 January.

It's crucial to the future of the county borough

Hedley McCarthy, Blaenau Gwent council

The proposals will be shown to council members and the members of the media at Crosskeys rugby club.

A travelling roadshow of the plans will go out to the communities of south east Wales from 18 January.

The six new stations will be located at Ebbw Vale Parkway Victoria, Llanhilleth, Newbridge, Crosskeys, Risca and Rogerstone.

Under the scheme, an hourly service to Cardiff will start in 2005 followed by an hourly service to Newport in 2009.

Rail link
The Ebbw Vale track was shut in 1962

Blaenau Gwent councillor Hedley McCarthy said: "I hope the rail link will transpire as quickly as possible, 2005 at the latest and the sooner the better.

"It's crucial to the future of the county borough - I am optimistic for the future as long as we get sufficient funding and the plans and ideas are in place."

A masterplan for the future of the old Corus site in Ebbw Vale will also be revealed this month.

Councillor McCarthy wants to see a Lifelong Learning Campus established at the site, and other suggestions include a new hospital and an equestrian centre.

"I also hope the old clock tower at the general offices will be saved - it is a listed building dating back to 1916," he added.

Steel workers
Ebbw Vale steelworks closed in 2002

Rising house prices in Cardiff, coupled with a fast and efficient rail link through the boroughs, could also point to a bold new future, said the member for Llanhilleth.

"We have exhausted the deprivation story, we want to turn the corner to a prosperous future and we want to embrace it," said Mr McCarthy.

He said local concern about massive funding for Cardiff Bay could ironically lead to investment and an exodus to the valleys of south east Wales as people, unable to cope with rising house prices in Cardiff, move north.

Councillor Olwen Swales said: "I think the rail link is marvellous - it is actually coming back and it will revitalise us for the future.

Rail tour
18 January Ebbw Vale town centre
21 January Abertillery
22 January Llanhilleth
23 January Newbridge
24 January Crosskeys
28 January Risca
29 January Rogerstone
1 Feburary John Frost Square, Newport

"The masterplan will be out soon and I think people will be pleasantly surprised," added the member for Nantyglo and executive member for highways and transportation.

A total of 7m has been pledged to the Ebbw Vale rail link by the Welsh Assembly Government from the Corus regeneration fund.

It is hoped European cash in the form of Objective One funding will be granted from the Welsh European Funding Office.

Principal engineer David McCallum, who is managing the project for Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Caerphilly, said: "We are providing the opportunity for potential rail passengers and local residents to let us know their opinion of the preliminary designs for each of the stations."


More from south east Wales
See also:

06 Jul 02 | Wales
31 Jan 02 | Wales
31 Jan 02 | Wales
31 Jan 02 | Wales
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