Rail deal hailed as "massive step forward"
An agreed funding package to electrify railway lines in the South Wales valleys has been welcomed by transport minister Edwina Hart after a dispute between the UK and Welsh governments was settled.
In his speech to the UK investment summit in Newport, UK Prime Minister David Cameron will announce that a deal has now been agreed to electrify the Valley Lines.
He will also announce that the UK government will cover the full costs of electrifying the Great Western mainline to Swansea and devolve the Wales and Borders rail franchise, so that the Welsh government decides the new franchise in 2018.
"Today's announcement is the result of a great deal of hard work and co-operation between the Welsh Government and the Department of Transport," said Edwina Hart.
"Electrification of the mainline will be a massive step forward in creating a modern train service that is capable of meeting future demand and supporting economic growth. Upgrading, electrifying and improving the Valleys Lines is vital to our ambitions for delivering the South Wales Metro.
"I also welcome the decision to hand over control of the Welsh rail franchise to the Welsh Government, for which I have long argued is necessary to ensure we can create a train service that is suitable for Wales."
The reduced journey times and increased capacity provided by the project are expected to mean that the Valleys will benefit from the economic growth that cities such as Cardiff and Newport are already experiencing by making it quicker and easier for people to travel to them.
Journey times from Merthyr Tydfil and Treherbert to Cardiff would be reduced to a little more than 50 minutes.
To make the deal happen, the UK government will take over sponsorship and fund delivery of the Cardiff-Bridgend section of the Main Line electrification scheme to Swansea - worth £105m - and contribute £125m towards the costs of the wider Valley Lines electrification scheme.
The Welsh government will take over sponsorship and delivery of the Valley Lines project.