South Wales 'Metro' updates

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Cardiff123

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CASR was a multi stage project the work they did do enabled the 4tph service at the Cardiff end. The later stages would have made the changes further up the valleys. This has of course been superseded by the Core Valleys Line scheme.

So what infrastructure, in addition what is detailed in this article, did CASR involve? It's worth noting that even with the additional platforms further up the Valleys at Pontyridd and on the Rhymney line that CASR did involve, TfW will still be adding in more passing loops and new platforms to enable 4tph from each Valleys terminus to be possible.

As I said up thread, and as is stated in the article, CASR allowed up to 16tph through Queen St, but operating with heavy rail DMUs, that wouldn't have allowed for any slack in the timetable. Even the slightest service disruption would've led to timetable meltdown. Plus if you have say 4tph from each Valleys terminus with CASR, what about the Coryton line? And that doesn't allow for any additional terminators at Pontyridd and Caerphilly, as is planned by TfW.

It's also worth noting that from start to finish, CASR took 4 and a half years! As with all NR infrastructure schemes it was over budget and heavily delayed. I remember commuting through Cardiff in 2014/15 when the work on the new platforms at Central and Queen St had been started but was abandoned for months and nothing was happening.

And of course CASR didn't include electrification, and anyone who thinks the Valleys electrification scheme would have gone ahead if left up to DfT and UK Govt, when they were cancelling every other electrification scheme across England and of course cancelled Cardiff to Swansea, really is living in the clouds.
 
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Brissle Girl

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Agree, operations around Queen St, and in particular the junction just north of the station, will be considerably aided by having much more nimble trams and other electric stock, which will clear the platforms and junction much more quickly.
 

Dai Corner

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Agree, operations around Queen St, and in particular the junction just north of the station, will be considerably aided by having much more nimble trams and other electric stock, which will clear the platforms and junction much more quickly.
On the other hand, they'll be changing traction mode in those areas which is perhaps one of the most frequent cause of failures.
 

Brissle Girl

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Has electrification on the Valley Lines started? If not when will it start? When will it end? And what type of OHLE is being used? Bonomi Omnia, Siemens Sicat, Furrer Frey Series 1 like the GWML?
Piling has started on the Aberdare branch. I don't have any information on the type of OHLE, other than I hope, for costs sake, that it is slightly less heavy duty than used on the GWML, given we are only looking at speeds of up to around 70mph.
 

Mordac

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Piling has started on the Aberdare branch. I don't have any information on the type of OHLE, other than I hope, for costs sake, that it is slightly less heavy duty than used on the GWML, given we are only looking at speeds of up to around 70mph.

I'm assuming there'll be no electrification North of Aberdare station, even if the line seems to continue a fair bit past it.
 

Cardiff123

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I'm assuming there'll be no electrification North of Aberdare station, even if the line seems to continue a fair bit past it.
No because the line north of Aberdare is currently closed, even if you can see it on Google maps/satellite.

To save this thread being taken up with anymore Qs that have been answered many times before, there's extensive details about exactly what the 'Metro' involves on the Valleys lines and in the wider south Wales area here:

 

MarkyT

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On the other hand, they'll be changing traction mode in those areas which is perhaps one of the most frequent cause of failures.
It's not so much a hard changeover, as between AC & DC on a traditional dual voltage unit, or between electric and diesel on a bimode. I believe the tram-trains' batteries will normally always be switched in and available as an energy source, topped up as required when under the wires. Obviously, using battery where unexpected, after a pantograph fails to rise on demand for instance, will potentially decrease off wire range, but shouldn't result in a train failing in situ at a busy station or partway across a junction. Battery can also allow service to continue through short OLE isolations on the electrified sections, planned for maintenance or in emergencies.
 

TravelDream

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No because the line north of Aberdare is currently closed, even if you can see it on Google maps/satellite.

What's happening with the proposed extension to Hirwaun from Aberdare?

Just a couple of months ago the local council bought a site for a potential new station/ park and ride on the route in Trecynon.
Former Mayhew Chicken Factory site, Trecynon
The site is located adjacent to the Aberdare Bypass, and could facilitate the potential development of a station halt on the opposite side of the river. It could provide park and ride arrangements and a pedestrian access to the station. It is a strategic site, with the extension of passenger rail services from Aberdare-Hirwaun being explored through Welsh Government-funded studies.
 

Cardiff123

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What's happening with the proposed extension to Hirwaun from Aberdare?

Just a couple of months ago the local council bought a site for a potential new station/ park and ride on the route in Trecynon.

There's been no news since the council bought that land, although it's pretty obvious to me that Welsh Govt would like the extension beyond Aberdare to Hirwaun to happen. But it's still at the 'proposed' rather than 'planned, approved and funded' stage.
 

Tomos y Tanc

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There's been no news since the council bought that land, although it's pretty obvious to me that Welsh Govt would like the extension beyond Aberdare to Hirwaun to happen. But it's still at the 'proposed' rather than 'planned, approved and funded' stage.
The extention will probably happen in due course but there is some discussion as to whether to terminate the extention at Hirwaun station or to continue further to a new tourist travel hub close to the former Tower washery. The idea is that the Metro would link to a 'Snowdon Sherpa' style bus service taking in the various attactions around Penderyn, Hirwaun and Pontneddfechan.

Tourism seems to be growing rapidly in the southern Beacons / heads of the valleys area so you can see the logic of providing public transport to the waterfalls, Penderyn distillery, zip world etc, helping to take some of the pressure off Penyfan and other honeypots further north.
 

Brissle Girl

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An extension to Hirwaun would make a lot of sense. The trackbed is still in place, having been used until relatively recently, and the ribbon of development continues that far. Beyond that, I wonder whether the extra capital and operating cost would give enough benefit in terms of reducing the journey length of the bus service, particularly if it tipped the journey length to a point whether a further additional diagram was needed.
 

TravelDream

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Tourism seems to be growing rapidly in the southern Beacons / heads of the valleys area so you can see the logic of providing public transport to the waterfalls, Penderyn distillery, zip world etc, helping to take some of the pressure off Penyfan and other honeypots further north.
To me, this is pure fantasy. There is no reason whatsoever that a tourist hub would need a mainline rail connection. The Zip Wire already runs a minibus service to collect its customers and would likely extend that to Hirwaun station. Stagecoach operates a realtively frequent (though only Mon-Sat) service between Aberdare/Hirwaun and Penderyn. a Beacons Sherpa service probably does make a fair bit of sense (the traffic during every summer can be bad, but this summer has been awful), but it could very easily connect at Hirwaun or even Aberdare.

An extension to Hirwaun would make a lot of sense. The trackbed is still in place, having been used until relatively recently, and the ribbon of development continues that far. Beyond that, I wonder whether the extra capital and operating cost would give enough benefit in terms of reducing the journey length of the bus service, particularly if it tipped the journey length to a point whether a further additional diagram was needed.
I wonder this myself. Stagecoach already operates Aberdare to Hirwaun every 10 minutes through most of the day Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays and public holidays. It could be the case that genuine ticket integration (not PlusBus) might be a more effective solution. There's no reason really why someone in Hirwaun couldn't buy a Hirwaun to Cardiff day return connecting with the train in Aberdare.
Still, this has been a long-term ambition for the Welsh Government and local council and it seems it's still very much on the radar.
 

Brissle Girl

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I wonder this myself. Stagecoach already operates Aberdare to Hirwaun every 10 minutes through most of the day Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays and public holidays. It could be the case that genuine ticket integration (not PlusBus) might be a more effective solution. There's no reason really why someone in Hirwaun couldn't buy a Hirwaun to Cardiff day return connecting with the train in Aberdare.
Still, this has been a long-term ambition for the Welsh Government and local council and it seems it's still very much on the radar.
A bus connection immediately introduces an element of uncertainty around connections (although admittedly with the frequency mentioned and that proposed on the branch, that would be minimal).

Think about it. If you live in Hirwaun and want to commute to Cardiff, how much does it reduce the attractiveness of the proposition by having to use a bus at either end of the day, rather than a short morning stroll to the station, with much more predictable timing for departure (trains don't run early, buses sometimes do), a faster journey to Aberdare and no interchange time.

And as the line is in situ, it feels like one of the easiest reopenings to do, particularly if the light rail aspects of the rolling stock means less extensive engineering to bring it back into service.
 

Cardiff123

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And as the line is in situ, it feels like one of the easiest reopenings to do, particularly if the light rail aspects of the rolling stock means less extensive engineering to bring it back into service.
The main barrier to reintroducing the line, no matter how easy and practical it could be, is funding. If we still had access to EU structural funds it would be a prime candidate for EU funds as a straightforward follow on from the CVL project, as a large part of the Valley lines upgrades are being funded with the last round of EU structural funds we are entitled to.

But we no longer have access to EU structural funds and the UK Govt are showing no signs of sticking the their promise of Welsh Govt "not losing a penny" of the cash Wales was entitled to from EU funds. Not only that, UK Govt don't want Welsh Govt to have a say in how any replacement funds are spent either.
 

tomuk

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The main barrier to reintroducing the line, no matter how easy and practical it could be, is funding. If we still had access to EU structural funds it would be a prime candidate for EU funds as a straightforward follow on from the CVL project, as a large part of the Valley lines upgrades are being funded with the last round of EU structural funds we are entitled to.

But we no longer have access to EU structural funds and the UK Govt are showing no signs of sticking the their promise of Welsh Govt "not losing a penny" of the cash Wales was entitled to from EU funds. Not only that, UK Govt don't want Welsh Govt to have a say in how any replacement funds are spent either.
Isn't it being replaced by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in April 2022.
 

Tomos y Tanc

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Isn't it being replaced by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in April 2022.
Yes it is, but the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a slush fund for Tory MPs to reward pet projects in their own areas rather than a data based system.

As a simple example, Caerphilly county borough which includes some of the most deprived communities in the UK is ineligeable for funding while Sunak's hyper-wealthy own constituency is counted in. It's simply corrupt, but the Caerphilly folks voted for it so it's hard to feel much sympathy.
 

Dai Corner

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I wonder this myself. Stagecoach already operates Aberdare to Hirwaun every 10 minutes through most of the day Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays and public holidays. It could be the case that genuine ticket integration (not PlusBus) might be a more effective solution. There's no reason really why someone in Hirwaun couldn't buy a Hirwaun to Cardiff day return connecting with the train in Aberdare.
Still, this has been a long-term ambition for the Welsh Government and local council and it seems it's still very much on the radar.
You can buy a daily or weekly. 'Railroad' ticket to include bus travel to Aberdate station and onward rail travel to Cardiff (and several similar ones). As far as I know Stagecoach and ATW (or maybe their predecessors) negotiated this themselves without any input from Councils or Governments.

 

tomuk

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Yes it is, but the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a slush fund for Tory MPs to reward pet projects in their own areas rather than a data based system.

As a simple example, Caerphilly county borough which includes some of the most deprived communities in the UK is ineligeable for funding while Sunak's hyper-wealthy own constituency is counted in. It's simply corrupt, but the Caerphilly folks voted for it so it's hard to feel much sympathy.
Isn't that the Community Renewal Fund your talking about. The following Welsh councils were given priority status under the scheme.

Blaenau Gwent, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, Isle of Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and Torfaen.

All other councils can still apply but the 100 priority places have priority.
 

Brissle Girl

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The main barrier to reintroducing the line, no matter how easy and practical it could be, is funding. If we still had access to EU structural funds it would be a prime candidate for EU funds as a straightforward follow on from the CVL project, as a large part of the Valley lines upgrades are being funded with the last round of EU structural funds we are entitled to.

But we no longer have access to EU structural funds and the UK Govt are showing no signs of sticking the their promise of Welsh Govt "not losing a penny" of the cash Wales was entitled to from EU funds. Not only that, UK Govt don't want Welsh Govt to have a say in how any replacement funds are spent either.
If a fraction of the money spent on the Heads of the Valleys improvement (or the money saved by the cancellation of the M4 Relief Road) was made available, you'd be able not only to reopen to Hirwaun, but complete the missing link to Glynneath (around 6m, but probably mostly under the HotV now admittedly) and restore a service all the way down to Neath. Think what that would do for connectivity.
 

Cardiff123

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If a fraction of the money spent on the Heads of the Valleys improvement (or the money saved by the cancellation of the M4 Relief Road) was made available, you'd be able not only to reopen to Hirwaun, but complete the missing link to Glynneath (around 6m, but probably mostly under the HotV now admittedly) and restore a service all the way down to Neath. Think what that would do for connectivity.
Yep, but UK Govt made very clear that if the money for the M4 wasn't spent on that it wasn't available for anything else, and as I said further up thread, if Wales was getting Barnett formula consequential funding from HS2 as Scotland and NI are..........
Anyway, we better leave this discussion here.
 

daodao

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If a fraction of the money spent on the Heads of the Valleys improvement (or the money saved by the cancellation of the M4 Relief Road) was made available, you'd be able not only to reopen to Hirwaun, but complete the missing link to Glynneath (around 6m, but probably mostly under the HotV now admittedly) and restore a service all the way down to Neath. Think what that would do for connectivity.
The population of Hirwaun is only about 5,000. Would extending the Cynon Valley rail line beyond its current natural terminus of Aberdare, which is a substantial town with a population of 40,000, really be worthwhile or viable? There is already a frequent bus service from Aberdare to Hirwaun (at least Mon-Sat daytime). This extension has been under "limited" consideration for many years, but does not form part of the major upgrade to the Valley Lines now in progress.
 

MarkyT

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The population of Hirwaun is only about 5,000. Would extending the Cynon Valley rail line beyond its current natural terminus of Aberdare, which is a substantial town with a population of 40,000, really be worthwhile or viable? There is already a frequent bus service from Aberdare to Hirwaun (at least Mon-Sat daytime). This extension has been under "limited" consideration for many years, but does not form part of the major upgrade to the Valley Lines now in progress.
As well as the immediate settlement, Hirwaun might plausibly become an attractive railhead for a wider rural area via the heads of the valleys, avoiding such traffic having to go to into Aberdare or further south. I agree the extension is not an immediate priority but it could be added fairly easily and quickly after the current modernisation has been completed.
 

Dai Corner

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Most of whose population are sheep, not people.
Maybe an opportunity for the return of livestock trains to get the sheep to abattoir or market? It would give the redundant 150s and 153s an extended life before they make their final journey to Sims in Newport docks.
 

Envoy

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If they could get the extension from Aberdare to the A4059 at Hirwaun, it could include a free car park which would surely induce the residents of Penderyn & Rhigos to use the Metro? This would be a far easier place to reach for any shuttle mini buses linking with the nearby tourist attractions than the rather slow road into Aberdare. With such easy access, it would surely attract tourists - who might be based in hotels in Cardiff - to travel up the valley on the Metro. This would have the added bonus of evening out the flow - at least in summer - as they would be going in the opposite direction to commuters from the valleys.

Many thanks everyone for your continued contributions.
 

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