Further details have emerged for the planned £1bn rail-based Swansea Bay Metro. This would see journey times greatly reduced between Cardiff and London and transport connections generally improved. The commute between Cardiff and Swansea could be as little as half an hour if the main line was rerouted as per the plan.
Plans to electrify the mainline between Port Talbot and Swansea were controversially abolished in July of this year. However Professor Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity at Cardiff’s School of Geography and Planning believes the scrapping of the electrification has created an opportunity to vastly improve connectivity of the region and will facilitate the creation of new jobs to the area.
Professor Barry, created the concept for the south-east Wales Metro – which is now out for procurement. For the Swansea Bay Metro system, he has suggested routing the mainline for Port Talbot directly through to Swansea.
While he admits the idea would result in the main line being taken away from Neath, he believes the compromise would be the creation of a metro system with expanded and improved services along the existing main line from Neath into the heart of the City. It will also provide links to stations around the SA1 Development, Liberty Stadium and the new Fabian Way student campus.
He also suggested amalgamating the Neath Valley line into a new network. Presently, only freight trains run along this line as well as select regional services.
Professor Barry has said the reduced journey time to Cardiff, conjoined with electrification of the Cardiff to Paddington line, would see Swansea to London journey times cut to two hours and 15 minutes.
Further focal points of the proposal include a Swansea Bay commuter circle line or potentially a figure of eight using the Swansea district line to Llanelli.