There has been a lot of debate and comment, especially over the last few days, in respect of my ideas for Swansea Bay and rail connectivity as presented here
Firstly and to scotch any rumours, no one is proposing that Neath station should be closed; far from it. I want to see more services to Neath to improve its overall level of connectivity – both within the wider Swansea Bay region and to place like West Wales, Cardiff, Bristol and London. How this is done should be of less importance!
My suggestion (and it was just that!) for a new main line route from Port Talbot to Swansea along the coast would cut journey times to Swansea and West Wales but that has to be aligned with other measure (e.g. line speed upgrades between Cardiff and Bridgend). It is also just a proposal and yes would be very expensive and perhaps (even probably) undeliverable!
In doing that I don’t see Neath having less services – it has to have more.
In fact without due process, discussion, consultation and a strong and robust business case – and yes money – there is no project or projects
There is a geographic reality though in that faster direct services from Cardiff/London to Swansea High Street and West Wales are compromised by going via Neath.
However, it’s not up to me to determine whether that is desirable or not.
What I think is needed is a debate in the region….
What sort of rail services does the region need, where do we want our main stations? (there could be a new station elsewhere for the wider region?) Do we want (and where): trains, Light Rail, tram-train, buses, active travel, Autonomous vehicles, or combinations thereof, etc. Does this region need a separate local commuter rail network, how do we integrate with local bus networks, etc
This is a debate that needs to engage the views of people, business and stakeholders in Swansea, Neath, Llanelli, Carmarthen, West Wales, Amman Valley, Port Talbot, etc….. there are many valid views and opinions.
We need to be guarded though as I think we need to avoid easy answer solutions and intransigent positons not based on evidence or analysis. We also need avoid having views, opinions and analysis being misrepresented!
A structured transport appraisal process can help.… and is a process that can help objectively manage some of the choices, decisions and compromises that may ultimately be required.
We do need vision and ambition and in that respect I am glad my article has provoked a debate. It’s long overdue.