Global Centre for Rail Excellence gets backing from key political figures
Five significant politicians from across Wales have joined with the rail industry by supporting a new Global Centre for Rail Excellence – a new rail testing facility proposed by the Welsh Government in South Wales.
From left to right: Lee Waters AM; Jeremy Miles AM; Cllr Dean Cawsey; Christina Rees MP; Richard Jones, Railway Industry Association, and Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP (UK Welsh Affairs Select Committee Member), Christina Rees MP (Shadow Wales Secretary), Lee Waters AM (Welsh Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport), Jeremy Miles AM( Neath Assembly Member) and Dean Cawsey (Onllwyn Ward Councillor) visited the site and heard about the proposals that could bring considerable investment, jobs and economic growth to the region as a result of the introduction of a Global Centre for Rail Excellence.
The visit was organised by the Railway Industry Association (RIA), the national trade body for more than 290 rail suppliers, who have been supporting the Welsh Government’s plans. The visit was part of RIA’s Rail Fellowship Programme which sees politicians visit key rail sites to get a hands on experience of the industry and to see first hand its contribution to the UK economy.
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Christina Rees MP, said: “Following several body-blows to the manufacturing industry in Wales during the past few years, it is great to be faced with prospect of the Global Centre of Rail Excellence being proposed at the heart of the valleys and south Wales coalfield. The development will bring well-paid long-term jobs, through both direct employment and via the supply chain, as well as an opportunity for sustainable regeneration across the Dulais Valley and South Powys area. I am obviously delighted that the project will be partly located in my constituency, but I am confident that its impact will be felt right across Wales. I will do everything I can to support the Welsh Government, local Councils and other key partners to make this proposal a reality.”
Lee Waters AM, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “This is a project the Welsh Government has developed in response to industry demand and we are committed to working with partners in the private and public sectors to deliver it. Given their prominent industry role I’m delighted that the Railway Industry Association is showing such positive interest. It is a clear indication of the significant progress we’ve made so far. There remains much hard work to be done but I really welcomed the opportunity to visit the site, which put the scale of ambition into proper perspective.”
Welsh Affairs Select Committee Member, Tonia Antoniazzi MP, said: “I want to thank the RIA for the opportunity to visit the site and I’m pleased to see the Welsh Government are taking rail investment in South Wales seriously. I’m hopeful the opportunities and innovations that can be developed at this test site will benefit will my constituents in Gower.”
Jeremy Miles, AM for Neath, said: “The proposed rail testing facility to be based between Onllwyn and Nant Helen is a unique opportunity and one which will bring significant investment, jobs and economic growth to both the local area and to the region as a whole. This exciting project shows what we can achieve when we all work together to invest in rail technology in Wales and I am pleased that it has the full backing of the Welsh Government.”
Onllwyn Councillor, Dean Cawsey, said: “I am delighted to be a part of today’s visit with the Deputy Minister and other senior politicians, as well as key partners including the Railway Industry Association, Welsh Government and Celtic Energy. It is very exciting to see the project progressing and the Global Centre of Rail Excellence is a brilliant prospect for the Onllwyn ward, Dulais Valley and surrounding areas. This is a once in a generation chance to bring much-needed quality jobs and prosperity to our valleys, leaving a clean, long-term legacy following decades of deindustrialisation. Rail is clearly a growing sector and to see our communities as part of its future is a significant opportunity.”
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the RIA, said: “Rail is a vital sector for the Welsh economy, providing ￡1.14 billion in economic growth, employing 20,000 people and provides ￡338 million in tax revenue. And with a new Global Centre for Rail Excellence, it will contribute even more.”
Will Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Celtic Energy, said: “We are excited to be able to support the Welsh Government’s proposal for a Global Centre for Rail Excellence at our site in Nant Helen. It is a fantastic opportunity to secure a long-term legacy for employment in the area following many generations of reliance on the coal industry.”