The Minister responded to the recommendations of the Enterprise and Learing Committee on Friday November 9th – see below. The Committee will have the opportunity to questions him on his response at their meeting on Wednesday November 14th. Sixteen members of the Action Group are planning to travel to Cardiff then to attend the meeting.
Enterprise and Learning Committee
EL(3) 10-07 (p3) : 14 November 2007
Written Response to the Enterprise & Learning Committee’s recommendations in respect of the petition to reopen Carno Railway Station by Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport.
One Wales makes a commitment to improve train services and railway stations.
Welsh Assembly Government is working in partnership with Network Rail, Train Operators and the four Regional Transport Consortia to deliver the One Wales commitments for the people of this country.
In the context of improving the Cambrian railway line, I have already agreed to provide capital funding of £8 million in 2008-09 to improve the infrastructure between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury. Network Rail is investing another £5 million from its Performance Fund. Total investment including project development work is £13.4 million.
The investment will provide for a major improvement in punctuality of train services, will make possible potential future enhancement of train frequencies, and delivers economies of scale by virtue of being incorporated within Network Rail’s European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) national pilot project.
The investment will enable the installation of new or improved passing loops – to ensure trains from opposite directions can pass without being held up – and the raising of the track at Dovey Junction by 0.6 metres to reduce the risk of flooding from the adjacent estuary.
Works to be carried out between Autumn 2007 and December 2008 will include additional passing provision at Dovey Junction, Talerddig and Welshpool and the removal or improvement of a little used former farm level crossing at Weig lane near Caersws.
The Project will be undertaken in parallel with, and by the same contractors for, the installation of the £60 million plus European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) national resignalling project.
I have set out below my response to the Report’s individual recommendations.
Detailed responses to the report’s recommendations are set out below:
The Committee….Welcomes the decision to proceed with the Cambrian Line Infrastructure Enhancement Project and urges the Welsh Assembly Government to provide the necessary funding for an hourly service on the line as soon as possible after the infrastructure work has been completed.
The Cambrian Line Infrastructure Enhancement Project will be completed in December 2008. Thereafter, the provision of a more frequent (i.e. hourly) train service will be assessed in the context of relative priorities within the Regional Transport Plans and the availability of funding within the Government’s revenue budget.
The Committee…..Supports the view that safety must be a primary concern in the provision of any new railway infrastructure.
Welsh Assembly Government agrees with this recommendation.
The Committee…. Asks the Minister to confirm that, following completion of the infrastructure enhancement project, it would still be possible to accommodate a single platform station at Carno without compromising the performance or reliability of a future hourly service on the Cambrian Line.
The Cambrian Line Infrastructure Enhancement Project provides passive provision for a single platform station in the locality of Carno. The optimum site for a new station within the locality is not known. A technical feasibility study would need to be completed to understand:
- Compliance to engineering standards
- Compliance to the Disability Discrimination Act
- Ownership and availability of land
- Safety standards
- Impact on timetable reliability, performance and punctuality
- Cost and benefits
Stopping train services at Carno would increase actual journey time, and the impact of this on the timetable has not been fully modelled. A technical feasibility study would need to be undertaken before a definitive response to Recommendation 3 can be provided.
The Committee…….Asks that the Minister’s officials provide support to the Carno Station Action Group in developing and submitting a formal business case for such a station.
It is the role of the Transport Consortia (in this case TraCC), Welsh Assembly Government, Arriva Trains Wales and Network Rail to develop formal business cases for enhancements to the railway infrastructure.
Welsh Assembly Government believes that Carno Station Action Group can positively contribute towards this process through engagement with TraCC, rather than as a stand-alone entity.
The Committee…. Considers that the position of Carno on a stretch of line between Caersws and Machynlleth where there is no station for a distance of more than 20 miles adds considerable weight to the case for a new station at this location.
This recommendation is noted, and should feature within the business case for a station at Carno.
Not Applicable to Welsh Assembly Government
The Committee…..Asks the Minister to publish general guidance on preparing business cases for the opening of new stations in Wales, including guidance on what the potential costs could be.
The railway in Wales is an integral part of the UK rail network, and consistency of approach is therefore necessary. In view of this, the primary reference document for general advice is New Stations – A Guide for Promoters (September 2004), originally published by the Strategic Rail Authority and now a Department for Transport document [No longer at the original web link. – try Investment in Stations – a guide for promoters and developers, 1.3MB pdf, instead]
In Wales, the majority of new transport projects will be assessed using an appraisal framework called WelTAG (Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance). The purpose of WelTAG is to ensure that a balanced approach is taken when assessing the business case of projects, taking into the following impacts:
The Cambrian Line Infrastructure Enhancement Project was appraised using WelTAG principles.
The Committee…..Asks the Minister to clarify the Assembly Government’s view of the future role of the Cambrian Line – as an inter-urban service or one that also serves rural communities in mid Wales.
The Cambrian Line is part of the UK railway network and plays an important role in local, regional and national transport links.
The Assembly Government believes that, with careful timetable planning, the Cambrian Line is able to serve local, regional and national markets. These markets can be mutually inclusive rather than mutually exclusive.