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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 20:08 GMT 21:08 UK
Ebbw Vale's train link restored
Artist's impression of part of new Ebbw Vale to Newport line
An artist's impression of the new line
Work has begun on laying the tracks for a rail link between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale - which it is hoped will boost one of Wales' most deprived areas.

It has been 44 years since the last passenger train ran in the area.

Now the line which has been used for freight services, is being upgraded with six new stations being built.

It is hoped that the hourly service will provide better commuting opportunities for people in Blaenau Gwent.

The Ebbw Vale rail link scheme will upgrade 18 miles of railway line for passenger services, restoring a link with Cardiff that was severed in 1962.

'Beautiful landscapes'

Trish Law, the independent assembly member for Blaenau Gwent, said she was "delighted" work was starting on the rail service after her late husband Peter Law - who was MP and AM for the area - had campaigned for the service.

She said: "It gives our people in Blaenau Gwent the chance to get to Cardiff and to get to Newport either for leisure or for work.

"But it also gives others the chance to come into Blaenau Gwent - which is absolutely beautiful - to see what we've got here. A lot of history and beautiful landscapes."

Train in Ebbw Vale
Ebbw Vale's rail link was severed in 1962

Welsh Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies launched the track work at Ebbw Vale.

The project is a key part of the continued regeneration of the area following the closure of the Corus works in 2002.

Transport expert Stuart Cole of the University of Glamorgan said the scheme was about regeneration.

"It's people's opportunities to get jobs, people's opportunities to take part in social events and people's opportunities to improve their environment and lifestyle," Professor Cole said.

New stations along the route will include Abertillery, Llanhilleth and Risca.

However, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Mike German said he was concerned about the standard of the service.

"What sort of trains are people going to travel in? Are they going to be comfortable or are they going to be squashed up like bottles in a milk crate?" asked Mr German.

The new line is expected to open in the summer of 2007.




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