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More disruption for rail passengers in south Wales

Rail passengers are being urged to check before they travel this weekend as all services between Cardiff Central station and Bristol Parkway will be affected by electrification work on the South Wales Mainline.

Credit: Network Rail

From Saturday 17th September until the early hours of Monday 19th September the line between Newport and Cardiff will be closed and a bus replacement service will operate as engineers upgrade five road bridges.

We have designed the programme of work to keep disruption to the local community to a minimum. However, at critical milestones during the project this vital work will be noisy, particularly the demolition work taking place this weekend and we would like to thank the community for their patience and understanding while we carry out this essential upgrade work.

– Karl Gilmore, Network Rail programme manager

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Six weekends of disruption for rail passengers

Credit: Network Rail

Passengers are being urged to check before they travel between Newport and Shrewsbury as Network Rail embarks on upgrade works over six consecutive weekends beginning on 11 June.

Network Rail says there will be significant work at Shrewsbury station and signalling upgrade work in and around Hereford station. The work finishes on Sunday, 17 July.

Bus replacement services will be running during work between Newport and Shrewsbury, with the exception of Saturday, 9 July when trains will be running between Newport and Hereford because of the World Speedway Championships at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

These essential improvement works will mean better, more reliable journeys for the record numbers of passengers using the railway.

We are urging people to check before they travel. Some journeys will take longer and a bus replacement service will be in operation during these upgrade works. We have scheduled these works during the weekends to minimise disruption to passengers.

– Paul McMahon, Network Rail

Time lapse video of Newport railway bridge works

Network Rail has released a time lapse video of three months work on the Cardiff Road bridge in Newport.

It shows the largest telescopic crane in the UK which was used during the works.

The video was filmed from December 2015 until February this year, as engineers raise the height of the bridge creating the room for the overhead wires needed to power new electric trains.

'Striking' new footbridge opens at Port Talbot Parkway

Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail says a new footbridge has opened as part of an £11m upgrade at Port Talbot Parkway Station.

The 400-tonne bridge aims to provide better step-free access to the public across Port Talbot.

Credit: Network Rail

It houses a new ticket office, waiting area, customer facilities and CCTV equipment, as well as steps and lift access to platforms.

No delay to rail electrification, demands Welsh Government

The Welsh Government has welcomed today's announcement of changes to Network Rail but says there should be no delay to plans to electrify the line from London to Swansea. A spokesperson says:

Yesterday the Prime Minister made clear his personal commitment to electrifying the main-line from London to Swansea. Therefore we would expect no slippage regarding this project, despite today’s news. The Welsh Government and the business community in Wales have been very clear about the economic case for electrification, and the Minister re-iterated this today in a constructive conversation with Claire Perry, the Under Secretary of State for Transport. The changes to Network Rail are welcome, we have been pressing for an overhaul of this organisation for some time.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

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Minister urged to confirm 2018 electrification date

Opposition parties are demanding that the Transport Minister confirms that the Great Western main line will still be electrified through to Swansea by 2018. Patrick McLoughlin told MPs that the project was a top priority and is going ahead when other electrification schemes are being "paused". But he told Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards that he'd have to write to him about the completion date.

Mr Edwards said he was "concerned by the ambiguity" of the minister's response. The Liberal Democrats' spokesperson in the Assembly says she'll also be writing to Patrick McLoughlin.

It would be completely unacceptable for Welsh passengers to have to wait any longer than they already have for these vital improvements. I am particularly concerned that the Transport Minister failed to properly give a firm delivery date. That simply isn’t good enough.

– Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Eluned Parrott

But the Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns has backed today's announcement.

I'm pleased to hear the strong commitment to south Wales electrification through to Swansea from the Transport Secretary today. This project will transform the lives of people in South Wales by attracting investors, linking businesses to suppliers and connecting people to jobs.

– Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns MP
  1. Nick Powell

Great Western electrification "top priority"

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs that the electrification of the Great Western main line will be prioritised over other projects in the midlands and north of England as part of a crackdown on delays and rising costs at Network Rail. The state-owned company which controls the railway tracks is due to electrify the line from London to Swansea.

Electrification of the Great Western Line is a top priority and I want Network Rail to concentrate its efforts on getting that right.

On the Midland mainline better services can be delivered on that line before electrification. With things such as speed improvement works. So work on electrification will be paused.

The next franchise for the Transpennine route between Leeds and Manchester will bring modern trains and additional capacity. Current work on electrification will be paused because we need to be much more ambitious for that route.

– Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP

The minister told Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards that the government remained committed to electrifying through to Swansea on schedule, though he couldn't confirm that meant by 2018. He did not mention the electrification of the Valley Lines, which will largely be funded through the Welsh Government.

Network Rail promise better service with electric trains

Network Rail say the go-ahead for rail electrification in the Valleys will mean a better train service and boost the Welsh economy.

Electrification will transform the railway in south Wales, making journeys faster, more reliable, greener and quieter. An electrified railway will also help support economic growth by creating jobs and boosting the supply chain when work is undertaken, as well as providing a building block for future growth. It will help reduce journey times and boost commuting opportunities, making Wales a better place to do business.

– Mark Langham, Route Managing Director, Network Rail Wales
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