Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Blaenau Gwent Choo Choo

There will be huge disappointment for Blaenau Gwent residents this Christmas, after the Assembly announced that the long-awaited Ebbw Vale rail link has been delayed.

Just two days before a special celebration train service was due to be laid on this Friday, in readiness for the opening of the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line to passengers on December 22, Assembly Deputy First Mininster, Ieuan Wyn Jones, issued a statement saying: "I have been informed this morning (December 12) that Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has been unable to meet the agreed timetable for passenger services to commence before Christmas.
Blaenau Gwent’s Independent AM Trish Law said last night:

This bombshell announcement that the Ebbw Vale/Cardiff railway is not now to open on Friday beggars belief. We are told that Blaenau Gwent Council still has a number of ‘outstanding issues’ and I understand it will cost £2m to rectify these matters.

How is it that Blaenau Gwent have only now told the Assembly of their concerns? It was on Tuesday that WAG issued a press statement [which] went on to list what it called a community celebration to mark the completion of the £30m railway project.

How is it that such elaborate arrangements were made before the line was given a clean bill of health? Who will finance the £2m of work that needs doing?

This isn't going to encourage former Labour voters to vote Labour, which surprisingly could mean that the constituency remains Independent Central at the next general election.

Next Stop...????

Labour will breathe a sigh of relief that there's no election lurking around the corner.


Anonymous 13 December 2007 at 15:48  

Another WAG fiasco. Only this time they can partly blame a County Council.

Alan 13 December 2007 at 15:49  

And if the WAG had been the slightest bit serious about rail projects they'd have been involved in it from day one not left it to a council to struggle to implement. That said fr anyone being £2M over on a £30M capital project isn't actually that bad - the rise in material and fuel costs during implementation is horrendous.

Dewi 13 December 2007 at 16:11  

£32m does not buy you one Railway - railway was already there. £32m converts a recently closed Freight line into a passenger line. Now for a couple of billion could get a High Speed brand new Railway linking North and South.

The Half-Blood Welshman 13 December 2007 at 18:41  

I've blogged on this already. The big question is - what blunder in Health and Safety is so bad that it's going to delay opening by two weeks and cost £2 million to put right, yet wasn't observed while the line was being repaired and improved?

And - if this problem does exist, is it likely to be more dangerous than travelling by road between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale? Because if not, how many people are going to die or be seriously injured because this project has not been opened on time?

Interesting thoughts, if rather morbid perhaps. I feel really sorry for Ebbw Vale though - it's just had one kicking after another these last few years.

On a lighter note, have you seen Betsan's take on it?

Anonymous 14 December 2007 at 09:44  

Is there no end to the embarrassment of WAG?

Anonymous 14 December 2007 at 09:53  

On the twelth day of christmas my goverment sent to me

Twelve months of waiting
Eleven more committees
Ten schools a closing
Nine cabinet ministers
Eight consultations
Seven new excuses
Six libdems fighting
Five wasted years
Four more tax rises
Three percent inflation
Two lost cdroms
Now we shall blame it all on Rhodri ?

Aled from Mid Wales 14 December 2007 at 10:36  

Only one thing worries me - what would the Welsh Government be like if they were responsible for every aspect of governing a country?

A very scary thought indeed.

Anonymous 14 December 2007 at 11:39  

Pippa, you haven't blogged much this week. What's up?

Miss Wagstaff 14 December 2007 at 11:51  

Thanks for your comments and concern. I'm very busy up to Christmas and New Year - surprise surprise - will be posting next week on education again and whatever takes my fancy.

Miss Wagstaff 14 December 2007 at 11:52  

Half-Blood - It seems there's enough goings on in Blaenau Gwent to keep Trish in office for a while. Betsan's take on the current cock-up is highly amusing - wish I had thought of it :)

Anonymous 15 December 2007 at 12:17  

The project is run by the county council, I understand tere are very god legal, powers resons why this was undertaken at the start of the project. It won't hapen in future. WAG may have its faults but it is opening line, ebbw vale and vog when westminster is very ambivalent. If balme lies anywhere its with the council and the project manager. Makes you worry about the whole regeneration of the steel site that they are responsible for too. Trish Law can stop whinging too, where were these calls for the line o be reopened pre the steel closure - labour again not serving the constituency.

Dan Harvey 17 December 2007 at 08:33  

I've received a statement from Amey, the project managers for the scheme, which sheds some new light on proceedings - see the Transport Briefing website.

It seems there's very little left to be done before the railway can open to passengers and the WAG may have been a bit too quick to cancel the launch.

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