This week, Fay Jones MP, Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, to seek the UK Government’s support for the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE).
The GCRE is a proposed new facility which would be located at the Nant Helen surface mine near Ystradgynlais, South West Wales.
The facility would enable new rolling stock, signalling, communications, electrification and other infrastructure to be fully tested away from a live environment. The UK rail industry currently relies on testing sites in the US and in mainland Europe, so the GCRE would provide a welcome boost to our domestic industry, as well as reducing costs.
The site would also include a fully electrified rail loop capable of testing at speeds up to 110mph, as well as a loop designed for high tonnage infrastructure testing, which would be the first of it's kind in Europe.
In seeking UK Government support, Ms Jones highlighted how the project would play an instrumental role in the long-term future of the UK Rail Industry. The GCRE would support the growth of a technological, environmental and economical productivity hub unlike anywhere else in the region.
In the letter to the Secretary of State, Ms Jones sought a seed fund grant of £30m to this project, from the UK Government. The overall project cost is estimated to be in the region of £150m. If provided, the initial grant funding would likely provide confidence to investors who are willing to provide the remaining funding.
Fay Jones MP said:
“With the leadership of the UK Government, the Global Centre of Rail Excellence has the potential to become a once-in-a-generation project that makes lasting change, both locally and nationally.
“I am grateful that the Secretary of State for Wales is a firm supporter of this project and recognises that it would deliver on all levels of the UK Government’s agenda – particularly our commitment to levelling up the Union.
“This shovel-ready project would directly benefit one of the most deprived parts of Wales. It would truly show that the UK Government is fulfilling it's promises by creating jobs and generating economic growth.”