Ambitious plans for a crosscity tram line in Cardiff have been unveiled by the Council as part of a £1 billion project to transform how people travel around the Welsh capital. This plan is completely separate the previously announced South Wales Metro – the upgrading of rail services around the city and into the Valleys – and would see a light rail/tram line run from east to west connecting major population centres and new suburbs in the west with Cardiff Central.
Cllr Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff City Council, was speaking at a Welsh Government Conference on Active Travel, when he commented on plans to transform travel around the city. He said: “Cardiff’s transport network needs to change. It was originally designed for a city with a population of 200,000, but today our population is closer to 400,000 and there are another 80,000 commuters travelling into the city by car every day. It’s clear to everyone that this situation is unsustainable. We have a network which is already creaking. It only takes one road to go down in the city for delays to ensue. We also have some of the highest levels of NO2 in Wales. That is why I am setting out a vision today for a greener, more sustainable city a vision which could transform the way people move around our city by 2030. It is a plan for the future of Cardiff and it affects everyone who lives here and travels here to work. It is clear we won’t deliver this overnight, but we are today bringing forward the council’s aspiration while fully recognising that we will have to work effectively with Welsh Government and other partners. We will also need to have a serious public conversation about how this vision can be funded.”
The tram/light rail line being proposed is being marketed as Cardiff Cross Rail and would connect central Cardiff with major population centres to the east and west. There would be new station at Rover Way/Newport Road before running via the docks, Lloyd George Avenue and the City Line to the northwest of Cardiff and into Rhondda Cynon Taff.
This would be in addition to previously announced plans which includes the Cardiff Circle Line which would see the creation of a complete light rail or tram Circle Line around Cardiff connecting the Coryton line to the Taff Vale line north of Radyr. Other proposals include improving bus services around Cardiff, encouraging more cycling and walking, a new Park and Ride site at junction 32 of the M4 and an integrated ticketing system.
As part of the new rail franchise in Wales tram-train vehicles are being ordered from Stadler for operation on conventional lines although with these latest plans they could also be extended to use on the new cross city line although decisions such as that are for well into the future.
Cllr Thomas added: “This might well be our last opportunity to get transport right for Cardiff.We have consistently argued that the city’s future prosperity relies on an effective transport infrastructure, with seamless access to the UK’s motorway network, and free-flowing routes into, and around the city. Notwithstanding the recent announcement on the M4 Relief Road, it is clear that urgent investment is desperately needed in the transport infrastructure of the region. This must be seen in the wider economic context of Wales. The Cardiff Capital Region is the country’s economic engine, with Cardiff alone delivering 20,000 new jobs last year into the Welsh economy. The capital sums previously earmarked for the new M4 must now be invested in South East Wales. Our vision – made real – alongside the delivery of the Metro, could fundamentally reshape the transport infrastructure in the city for the betterment of the whole region.”
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, commented: “Get transport right and it’s a game changer. It adds real impetus to a city’s economic development agenda. It helps tackle inequality by better connecting people with opportunity. It improves quality of life and provides a visible pointer to the city’s environmental credentials. Get it wrong and it signals the inevitable erosion of your economic competitiveness and a slow decay in quality of life. It’s therefore hardly surprising that transport is consistently the single most important issues for residents. We now look forward to continuing to work with Welsh Government and other partners to make this game-changing investment in the city region’s transport network a reality. This vision represents some early ideas which have followed on from last year’s Transport and Clean Air Green Paper. It sets out our direction of travel. We will be bringing forward a White Paper in the autumn with more plans for the city, but we were keen for the conversation to begin now.”
No mention has been made of funding for these ambitious (they’re always ambitious!) proposals but it is said that the complete project would cost £1 billion.