The Welsh Governments proposed Metro for South Wales could provide a boost for the Vale, but could all hinge on funding from the European Union.
Anyone who followed Wales to France in the summer will surely tell you how effective the Metro lines made getting around large cities like Paris, Lyon and Toulouse.
The very European system that stretches as far as Budapest and Kiev has now been proposed for South Wales, and could bring a cosmopolitan transport system that revolutionises travel in the area.
The “transformational” plans unveiled by First Minister Carwyn Jones, include an upgrade to the existing train lines, faster buses and light rail or tram services. Economy Secretary Ken Skates claimed it would “connect many communities currently feeling quite isolated” but also stated that it should primarily serve the Valleys communities.
Though we in the Vale enjoy a better service, the current Arriva trains line has been identified by politicians and the community for a revamp for some time. The proposed plans would see a three-fold increase in the lines travelling to Rhoose, and an additional line going through Barry, providing an improved connection to the capital.
With additional service to Rhoose, the result could be increased use of the airport, something that would generate more tourism and a potential for growth. A new transport line going through Culverhouse Cross would deliver a much needed link to Barry, coinciding with the Bellway housing project.
But this promising plan all relies on European Union funding.
An application to fund the £600 million project is to be put forth by mid-2017 and construction to begin in 2019. £125 million will come from Westminster and £369 million from the Welsh budget, used previously in instances such as subsidising Welsh student’s fees after the £6,000 hike by the coalition government.
First Minister Carwyn Jones travelled to Brussels last week to attempt to secure the remaining £125m needed from the European Commission.
Wales is the biggest beneficiary per capita of EU funding in the U.K, but after the majority voted in favour of Brexit, Brussels may not be so generous, which could cast the vital contribution in doubt.
Jones admitted that “the referendum undoubtedly raised concerns about the delivery of major capital programmes currently receiving EU funding” but has relayed an apparent promise from May’s government that Brexit will not affect the Metro deal.
Plans will become clearer once the negotiations begin in April 2017, but there is strong hope we could see a cutting-edge transport system in the Vale by 2022.