Five Years of Great Progress on Rail for Ogmore residents
Over the past five years, Huw Irranca-Davies has campaigned relentlessly – and successfully – to enhance our rail services throughout the area. There have been major successes, and much more is in the pipeline too.
There is some history to his enthusiasm too, knowing that if we can improve our rail services all along the line to all stations – Maesteg to Bridgend, and Pencoed and Llanharan too – then we make life better for constituents, and make it easier for them to leave the car at home and travel by rail to shop and work and visit friends and attractions.
The first big success locally was actually the re-opening of the Llanharan Railway Station, way back in 2007. This was closed in 1964 under the infamous Beeching railway cuts. A decades long campaign followed, without success. But with powerful lobbying from then AM Janice Gregory and then MP Huw Irranca-Davies, backed with huge local support, Welsh Government gave the go-ahead for the re-opening of the station. Llanharan’s residents – new and old – will find it hard to remember what it was like without a station there. But it was a heck of a campaign, and we never gave up until we won.
But over the last five years we’ve been working on new challenges and securing new investment too.
Back in 2019 a Sunday service was introduced to the Maesteg line. It’s the first time this line had seen a train on it on a Sunday in decades. Now you hear the train hooter regularly on Sundays up and down the valley. But let’s not forget too, the only reason the Llynfi rail line still exists is because a Labour local authority stood up to the Beeching cuts and refused to accept its closure back in the ‘60s! Now we are building on that by improving the services.
Back in 2020 we introduced the refurbished 170 carriages to the line, greatly improving the passenger experience with more space and more comfort, more seating and other improvements. On top of this we have investment in CCTV and station improvements to all of our stations along the line.
Over the last couple of years we have been working with Welsh Government on further improvements too, which will deliver more capacity on the line on all services and stations across Ogmore.
This includes ongoing work on the Pencoed Rail crossing and Penprysg Road Bridge in Pencoed to improve services through Pencoed and Llanharan by improving mainline capacity along this stretch, and so enabling greater frequency of services. This is a major piece of work which is in the early stages, and which would involve local residents and the Town Council in working through the best way forward for the town as a whole, including releasing some of the unmet commercial and economic potential.
But for the last few years I and Chris Elmore MP have been convening regular meetings involving Welsh Government Ministers and the Wales Office, Bridgend Council and the Town Council, Network Rail and Transport for Wales and others to develop proposals for this vital piece of work. But nothing will proceed without wide public engagement, and this will be the next step in the months ahead.
The same depth of engagement has been involved in taking forward the work on increasing the frequency on the Maesteg-Bridgend/Cardiff services, following our success in getting the Sunday Service introduced. As part of the South Wales Metro, we now have a cast-iron commitment to at least double the frequency of trains on this line in the near future, and in the longer-term to increase this to 3 or 4 trains per hour.
Work will proceed soon in the Tondu area around the signalling and line-works, and then the essential train loop (so up-down trains can pass) as the first part of increasing the frequency of service on this line. But ultimately more major investment will be needed to achieve the 3 or 4 per hour. But the studies have been done, initial work is commencing, and we look forward to continuing the work in the months and the years ahead.
Despite the massive impact of Covid on our rail services, we continue to work on these improvements, knowing that as we recover from Covid we will need our railways to help us get about again, but also to power our economic recovery too.
Our rail services are now run by the not-for-profit Transport for Wales, by and for the people of Wales. That was a long-time commitment by our Welsh Labour government, and we have done it. Our railways should be run for the people, not for profit. That means we can keep the investment going, and also deliver the services people want too.
We’ve accomplished much over the last 5 years for our railways in Ogmore. But we have much more to do, and we’ll crack on and deliver it too.
Re-opening Llanharan Railway Station back in 2007 was just the start. We’re on an exciting rail journey here in Wales, and here in Ogmore we are right at the heart of these developments.