A £100m plus funding boost for the next phase of rail’s Metro project from the European Union has been confirmed.
After more than two years of negotiation the Welsh Government has secured a £119m contribution towards the scheme from the EU.
And the funding has increased as a result of depreciation of sterling against the euro, following the UK referendum result to leave the EU.
EU funding for projects are calculated in euros. And as you now get more sterling for euros than two years ago, so has increased the final payment towards the Metro.
The Welsh Government was originally forecasting a funding contribution of around £105m, based on the exchange rate of the time.
The projected cost for the next phase of the Metro, where around 80% of the core Valley Lines into Cardiff will be electrified, remains at £734m. Alongside the EU funding there is also a significant contribution from the £1.2bn City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region.
Electrification will be carried out by joint venture partners KeolisAmey, who from October 14th will also take on the next 15-year Wales & Borders rail franchise. It will deliver both the franchise and the design and build of the next phase of the Metro under the banner of the Welsh Government’s at arm’s length transport body, Transport for Wales.
KeolisAmey is currently carrying out a more detailed analysis on the state of the rail network, ahead of the track asset being transferred from Network Rail to Transport for Wales.
In the ringfenced budget of £734m there is a contingency for a 40% overspend and also takes into account paying 20% in VAT to the UK Government.
Electrification of the lines will not be completed until 2023 with work not expected to start until late 2019 at the earliest.
The network, that include the Treherbert, Merthyr, Aderdare and Rhymney Lines, is now being referred to as Central Metro. Post electrification most of the network will be served by new tram-trains, which will see services from the periphery, including locations such as Treherbert and Merthyr, increasing from the current two to four an hour.
The Welsh Government is also applying for a further £40m plus in EU funding to support Metro infrastructure enhancements, which it hopes will be secured by the end of 2018.
£21.1m for the Merthyr line for track doubling between Merthyr Tydfil and Pentrebach, and between Merthyr Vale and Quakers Yard. New platforms will be constructed to accommodate the track doubling, with an improved interchange at Merthyr Tydfil station, new ramped access at Pentrebach and a new platform and footbridge at Quakers Yard.
£27.4m for the Treherbert line to allow sufficient infrastructure works along the full length of the line, including track doubling from north of Ynyswen to the south of Treorchy and north of Llwynypia to south of Dinas. The scheme also includes new platforms.
£23.7m for the Aberdare line for track doubling, new platform construction and other infrastructure work to allow the service to be increased to four trains per hour along the full length of the line from Abercynon to Aberdare. Track doubling will take place between Aberdare and Cwmbach, Fernhill and Penrhiwceiber, and north of Abercynon.
The scheme includes a new platform, new step-free access and new waiting rooms at Aberdare, and an enhanced interchange at Abercynon. £19.5m for the Rhymney line to undertake track doubling south of Rhymney, north of Tir Phil and around Bargoed.
The funding will also be used for other infrastructure work to allow the service to be increased to four trains per hour and provide new platforms, including step-free access and a new waiting room at Rhymney.
£27.3m will also be allocated towards the £50m Taff’s Well depot scheme. The depot will house tram trains. Trimodes, which will switch between battery, electric and diesel model, will run on the Rhymney Line.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The South Wales Metro is an important part of our ambition as a government to improve public transport and better connect our Valleys communities and people to employment opportunities.
“Today’s confirmation of £119m EU funding means we can proceed with investment in infrastructure work on the valleys lines to make faster and more efficient journeys a reality for the thousands of rail users who use these routes daily.”
Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, said: “I’m pleased we are able to confirm this significant amount of EU funding for the South Wales Metro.
This, along with the start of the new Wales and Borders rail contract later this month, marks considerable progress towards our plans for a modern, efficient and forward looking rail service.”
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