The future of welsh rail has received a huge boost, as creation of a £150 million rail testing centre in Wales took another step forward with the submission of plans for planning approval.
The Welsh Government’s new ‘Global Centre of Rail Excellence’ – the first of its kind in the UK – is expected to be fully operational by 2025, bringing up to 300 jobs to the area.
The first phase of the project – which includes the high tonnage test track and station – could open by 2023, with work to be completed on the latter two phases by 2025.
It will be constructed at Nant Helen opencast coal mine, near Ystradgynlais, and Onllwyn coal washery and distribution centre, after Celtic Energy ends its operations at the mine later this year.
Under the plans, a 6.9 kilometre high-speed testing track and 4.5km low-speed high-tonnage testing track will be built at the Nant Helen site along with a dual platform station. The facility will be connected to the main Brecon to Neath line, with signalling upgrades also planned as part of the project.
Plans for the Onllwyn site include a control centre, a research and development facility, maintenance sheds and staff overnight accommodation.The site spans the Powys/Neath Port Talbot border and identical planning applications have been submitted to both councils.
Nigel Brinn, director of economy and environment at Powys Council said: “We are fully committed to doing everything we possibly can to play our part in delivering this project of truly international significance.”
A site masterplan shows how the GCRE will take shape.