Blaenau Gwent trains in time for Christmas
Gwent Gazette: Nov 8 2007
by Louise Dicks
RESIDENTS of Blaenau Gwent will be able to hop on the train to Cardiff for a spot of last-minute shopping when the new rail link opens a week before Christmas.
Blaenau Gwent Council leader John Hopkins last week confirmed trains will start running for public use on Monday, December 17, with a special celebration train laid on for the Friday before.
On that day, specially invited guests will travel the line, greeting schoolchildren who will gather at stations along the way.
“We want the children there because we want it to be a celebration of what this rail link could mean for their futures,” says Coun Hopkins.
“There will be last-minute Christmas shopping opportunities for the people of Blaenau Gwent.”
Coun Hopkins revealed there are plans to hold an official opening ceremony sometime in the spring and hinted it could even involve royalty.
It is hoped the multi-million-pound railway scheme, which was supported by the Gazette’s Back on Track campaign, will benefit the residents of Blaenau Gwent, who have waited patiently for many years for the link to be restored, enabling them to travel to the city to find work.
The new service will be run by Arriva Trains and it is hoped the line may be extended to Newport in the coming years.
Business analysts at Ebbw Vale’s Innovation Centre have predicted the area will become an economic hot spot within five years with the establishment of the rail link and the regeneration of the Corus site.
The Innovation Centre itself was built in 2003 by Corus subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise, to act as a catalyst for growth.
It is now home to 200 jobs, and a further 150 jobs have been created in start-up businesses through the UK Steel Enterprise Kickstart Fund, with the support of Blaenau Gwent Council.
“I believe Ebbw Vale will be able to reverse the trend of people having to leave to find work,” said David Hughes, regional manager of UK Steel Enterprise in Wales.
“The new town will enjoy a higher level of economic activity, will provide jobs for local people and will have better facilities.”