Network Rail has unveiled proposals to meet future growth in passenger and freight journeys in Wales and the borders.
With rail travel into Cardiff expected to continue growing significantly over the next 30 years, the number of journeys to and from Cardiff Central – Wales’ busiest station – is forecast to grow from 13 million to 33 million by 2043.
A major redevelopment of Cardiff Central station, the modernisation of the railway across North Wales, and improved rail links throughout Wales and the borders are among the choices facing funders in the Welsh Route Study, published today.
The Route Study sets out the rail industry’s plan to meet future demand and the choices that exist for governments, and other funders of the railway, to invest in building a better railway for Wales: providing more seats, allowing for more freight, and delivering better connectivity with faster and more frequent services.
Tim James, head of strategy and planning for Network Rail Wales, said: “The railway is a great Welsh success story. Passenger journeys have increased by almost 50% over the last decade and continue to grow, the rail freight industry is developing new markets and adapting to economic change and new lines and stations have opened for the first time in generations.
“This is an exciting time for the railway, with improvements being delivered across the network, but additional investment is required to meet future passenger and freight demand.
“This Route Study provides clear options for Wales’ rail future – setting out the key choices facing funders, including a major redevelopment of Cardiff Central station, the modernisation of the railway across North Wales and improved rail links throughout Wales and the borders.”
The study also looks at the longer term and highlights the potential benefits of the Digital Railway – which would transform the passenger experience and see modern signalling technology used to significantly increase capacity on the existing rail network.
The Choices for Funders identified in the study and listed below will inform funding decisions for the period 2019 to 2024:
- More seats for passengers and more services on Valley Lines
- Phased programme of enhancements on Valley Lines – linked to the South Wales Metro
- Upgrading Relief Lines between Cardiff and Severn Tunnel Junction – more services and faster journeys
- Redevelopment of Cardiff Central Station to create a station fit for a capital city
- More seats for passengers on the busiest Cardiff to Manchester services
- Modernisation of the North Wales Coast Main Line – more services and faster journeys
- More services with better connections to Deeside
- Further improvements between Chester and Wrexham for more services and faster journeys
- Faster journeys between Wrexham and Bidston
- More services on the Cambrian line
- More services and faster journey times on Heart of Wales Line
- More services on the Ebbw Vale line with connectivity to Newport and Abertillery
- Continued programme of Level Crossing closures across Wales