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Ebbw Valley Railway - Start of Service

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Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister and Minister for Economy and Transport.
I have been informed this morning that Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has been unable to meet the agreed timetable for passenger services to commence before Christmas.

The Council, which is responsible for delivering the Ebbw Valley project, has informed me that there are a number of outstanding issues that must be resolved before the track can be handed over to Network Rail.

These relate to safety and engineering standards for track and signalling, which are mandatory before Arriva Trains Wales can commence driver training on the route to enable passenger services to start.

Until this was brought to my attention earlier today, I had been assured by Blaenau Gwent and its delivery agents Capita Symonds that passenger services would begin before Christmas.

Whilst I share the deep disappointment caused by this development, public safety has to come first.

In these circumstances it is not appropriate to proceed until everyone is fully satisfied that these issues have been resolved by Blaenau Gwent and a safe and reliable service can begin.

I intend holding an urgent meeting with the Council to press for an early resolution of these issues.