The South East Wales Metro is a proposed integration of heavy rail and development of light rail and bus-based public transport services and systems in South East Wales around the hub of Cardiff Central. The first phase was approved for development in October 2013.
The existing rail-based transport systems in South Wales were severely degraded following the 1960s Beeching Axe, with the closure of many lines serving the former mining communities and their links to ports on the South Wales Coast. Most of these closed lines ran across the north-south geography, cutting through and across the South Wales Valleys.
Ever since these cuts, which left many smaller former mining communities isolated and without rail services, there has been a willingness to re-instate services where economical. In addition, the provision of connecting services across the wider South East Wales region by creating a metro-style system has come on to the policy agenda. This would allow easier access to the employment and shopping opportunities in both Cardiff and the wider area.
In February 2011, Cardiff Business Partnership (CBP) published a report by Mark Barry of M&G Consulting, calling for an investment of £2.5bn over 10 years to connect Cardiff, Newport and the South Wales Valleys. The report Connecting Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys - A Metro for Wales' Capital City Region, concluded that with the stated investment in a regional metro system, by 2025 it would be possible to travel from the Heads of the Valleys to Cardiff or Newport in 40 minutes, by combining electrified heavy rail and light rail systems and boosted by faster rail links to London and London Heathrow Airport.
After the Welsh Government, supported by parties including a CBP team led by Mark Barry, had successfully lobbied at Westminster for the extension of the Great Western Main Line electrification programme west to Swansea, and north into the South Wales Valleys, CBP engaged Barry to develop a more detailed blueprint plan for Cardiff. Submitted in April 2012, after internal consultation it was submitted by CDP to the Welsh Government's Business Minister Edwina Hart in December 2012. The scheme proposed a £200M investment in a Cardiff crossrail scheme based on trams, between St Mellons in the east via Cardiff the cCentral, south into Cardiff Bay, north to Coryton, converting the existing Cityline section of the Valley Lines to tram, and a new route Northwest via Ely and Radyr Court to the M4 motorway at Creigiau.
In April 2013, Barry led a private sector metro consortium, with the common aim of promoting the metro project, which included representatives from: Capita; Jones Lang LaSalle; Powell Dobson Urbanists; Steer Davies Gleave. Hart then commissioned Barry to write a further report, detailing a phased approach to his original scheme. This report concluded that an initial £1bn investment in an integrated metro transport network for South East Wales could over a 30-year period add 420,000 people to the regional transport network, create 7,000 new jobs and plough an additional £4bn into the regional economy.
In October 2013, after Barry had submitted his report to Hart at the end of Summer 2013, the Business Minister endorsed the report. She allocated £62m for phase one of the scheme to improve bus and rail links, including rail infrastructure improvements, station upgrades, park and ride schemes, bus corridors, and walking and cycling schemes. Further, she set up a working group to examine detailed proposals for the potential subsequent stages of the South East Wales Metro system.
|Ebbw Valley Line (proposed)
|Newport-Nelson Line (proposed)
|Heads of the Valleys BRT (proposed)
These routes would initially in Phase 1 be existing bus routes, and later - depending on traffic levels - would be developed as high-speed bus routes, and later possibly as light rail/tram-based services
- Cardiff Central:
- South to:
- Culverhouse Cross
- Roath Basin
- Cross-route east/west from Coryton to Heath, Cardiff Gate, and then south to a new station at St Mellons
- Beddau: connecting:
- Northeast to Pontypridd
- Southeast to Cardiff Central
- Southwest via Llantrisant, Miskin/Pontyclun to Bridgend
- Llantrisant, connecting:
- North via Porth to Maerdy
- Pontypridd: connecting:
- Northeast via Ystrad Mynach, Pontllanfraith, Newbridge to Pontypool
- Pontllanfraith: new hub, connecting:
- Cross route via Merthyr, Rhymney, Tredegar to Ebbw Vale