Rhondda Cynon Taf Council employs more consultants but when will the Aberdare to Hirwaun Rail Line be completed?
More of your money for even more consultants when will The Election Special Aberdare to Hirwaun Rail Line be completed?
Back in 2009, this was the headline on WalesOnline “Full steam ahead for Hirwaun to Aberdare line” 13 years have passed and more coal is required to keep the steam going. AberdareOnline named the Aberdare to Hirwaun rail line extension THE Election Special why because the local Labour Party keep exploiting the proposed rail extension at election times.
January 2023 Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Investment, said: “I’m pleased the Council has successfully secured £239,633 funding for the next stage of development towards this Metro Plus project, which is a major extension of rail services from Aberdare to Hirwaun. It is an exciting project that is supported by the Cardiff Capital Region to complement the delivery of the South Wales Metro – and is being progressed by the Council and Transport for Wales.”
Passenger services on the stretch of the rail line is not a new concept it was first used for passengers on October 1864 https://www.cvhs.org.uk/RIP_history/railways.html
There have been thousands of pounds of public funding pumped into this rail line so far not forgetting a supposed £100k in 2020 but no start date for construction.
In 2009 the headline was Full steam ahead for Hirwaun to Aberdare line the then AM Cynon Valley Christine Chapman welcomed the plans. She said: “This is something that’s been called for during my time as an AM and I was very pleased to hear this announcement. And we are still hearing announcements 10-plus years on. Back in 2009, a spokesman for Network Rail was to carry out a feasibility study. Just how many feasibility studies are required? All these feasibility studies cost us, taxpayers, money are we just lining consultants’ pockets?
But let’s not forget the major project carried out by Network Rail on the Aberdare to Hirwaun rail line extension, and when we say major it was an in-depth specification photograph plans prices, Network Rails “Feasibility Study GRIP Stage 2: 112053 Aberdare – Hirwaun Services” a 64-page document showing new stations platform extensions, new car parks, and at the site of the original Old Aberdare Station, a new single platform station would have been constructed on the Down (north) side of the new passing loop, but that will never happen now.
The consultant employed by RCTC Atkins is not short of profit and has grown by 17 per cent, a pre-tax profit of £58.3m, up by £8.6m.
Instead of the council through the City Deal repetitively throwing our money at consultants why not just get on with the construction of the rail line extension?
The price has certainly increased but the Feasibility Study then was for a 6 car train system now Transport for Wales has cut that down to a tram system so there should be savings on the original estimate, but the price keeps escalating with more and more Feasibility Studies into an existing rail line that requires upgrading for passenger use.
We are informed Transport for Wales is managing the project and the latest funding will enable various actions to be completed by the appointed consultant Atkins Global Ltd. So another £239,633 of public money for another team of consultants to do what? We are informed this work would enable the WelTAG Stage 3 (Full Business Case) to take place in 2023/24.
Various Actions? What Various Actions £239,633 of public money actions, so who’s milking the system and why? All the public of Cynon Valley want is a start date and a completion date, not continual reports from consultants, just how many more reports do we need before the start of construction? How much longer are the MP MS council City Deal and Welsh Government going to milk the system with the publicity surrounding this rail line extension and paying more and more consultants?
The Leader of the council also said, “The Aberdare-Hirwaun extension is a Metro Plus scheme intended to complement the delivery of the Metro. Last year, the project’s appraisal process identified a preferred option to be developed – to extend the Aberdare line with three new stations.
Below is a Transport for Wales Freedom of Information Request
Date issued: 22 December 2020
We are writing in response to your Freedom of Information request. Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.
You asked for the following information:
1. What is the current plan for the future extension of the railway line from Aberdare to Hirwaun and within what timescale?
2. Is there a current plan for a train station/car parks in the Llwydcoed area?
3. Is there a proposed car park for train users located in Llwydcoed as part of the bypass planned?
4. Is there any current plan for a stop to be established in Llwydcoed?
5. Could you provide me with any plans/documentation (redacted if necessary) that would outline the proposals for stations and car parks as part of any proposed extension of the metro line from Aberdare to Hirwaun?
Having reviewed your questions, we are able to provide the following information:
In response to question 1:
Currently there is no plan to extend the railway line from Aberdare to Hirwaun. However, we are in the process of developing a business case to extend the South Wales Metro beyond Aberdare as far as Hirwaun. Any substantive work would not commence until the completion of the ongoing major works to transform the Core Valley Lines by 2024.
In response to question 2 & 4:
Currently there is no plan for a train station or car park in the Llwydcoed area. However, the business case that is being developed as outlined above does include the option for a station in the Llwydcoed area, which could include park and ride provision.
In response to question 3:
There is no plan to include a car park at Llwydcoed for train users as a part of the A465 Dualling as this falls outside the scope of the project.
In response to question 5:
Some indicative-site plans for the area have been drawn up, however, these are owned by the Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council. We suggest that you make a Freedom of Information request to the council for their disclosure using the following email address:
We can advise that no funding has been secured for this work at the current time.
We hope this information is of use to you.
Transport for Wales
October 2022 and TfW are investigating bringing back into use the existing rail track between Aberdare and Hirwaun Further surveys and investigation are required to determine the condition of the existing line and future infrastructure requirements. So the 2010 Network Rail study was all a wast of public money was it?
TFW Plans for the project will be open to public consultation, when?