Network Rail, Rail plans for West Wales unveiled

A £40m plan to significantly improve the rail infrastructure between Swansea and Gowerton is unveiled today as Network Rail submits its proposal to Carmarthenshire Council.

Backed by the Welsh Government and the South West Wales Integrated Transport Consortium (SWWITCH), this improvement will meet a key rail strategy to improve performance, connectivity and cater to a rising passenger demand in West Wales. It is forecast that passengers in West Wales could rise by 20% by the end of the decade.

Jointly funded by Network Rail and the Welsh Government, the scheme combines two core programmes of work - the replacement of the Loughor viaduct and the installation of an additional six-mile track between Cockett West Junction and Duffryn West Junction.

In addition, the disused eastbound platform at Gowerton station will be reinstated to cater for the new track.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said: “Today’s announcement of our plan is another affirmation of Network Rail’s commitment to growing the railway in Wales. This scheme has come about by a shared vision with the Welsh Government and SWWITCH, and the recognition that investment in rail infrastructure is good for the economy and will help support and nurture Welsh economic growth. We hope that local authorities, passengers and the local community share our vision of the long term benefits and support us during the construction works to deliver the scheme successfully.

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“The scheme promises to bring huge social economic benefits in south west Wales by improving capacity and connectivity to key employment centres such as Swansea, Llanelli, Carmarthen, Fishguard and Milford Haven. There will be an improved passenger experience with shorter journey times and better connections that will also encourage modal shift, potentially removing around 300,000 trips from road to rail and improving the green credentials of rail”

Key benefits of the scheme include:

1. A new structure at Loughor and that is strong enough to support two tracks

2. Better performance on the railway as the additional new track will allow trains to continue to run when one of the lines is shut or congested.

3. Provide more capacity on the railway to potentially enable two more trains to run between Swansea and Llanelli and one more train to run between Swansea and Carmarthen per hour.

4. A bigger, accessible and secure Gowerton station with two platforms, a new DDA compliant footbridge with ramps, real-time customer information system, CCTVs and better lighting

5. Modernised signalling infrastructure and enhanced crossing equipment at Duffryn to improve infrastructure reliability and safety

6. Stronger bridges at Traffle Mill, Gypsy Cross and Rhosog

Subject to planning approval and listed building consent, Network Rail is proposing to keep the existing natural stone abutments and some of the Grade II listed trestles and erect a small section of the old Loughor viaduct on the West shore as part of its conservation efforts.

In addition, Network Rail will be seeking approval from Environment Agency Wales, Countryside Council for Wales, WG Marine Consent Team to help protect the environment at the Loughor Estuary and Carmarthen Bay area. An environmental impact assessment has also been carried out.

Work will also be planned carefully to minimise disruption to passengers by carrying out majority of the work without having to close the railway.

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