Key Politicians back plans for Global Centre for Rail Excellence

6 September 2018

(From L to R, Lee Waters AM; Jeremy Miles AM; Cllr Dean Cawsey; Christina Rees MP; Richard Jones, Railway Industry Association, and Tonia Antoniazzi MP)

Five significant politicians from across Wales have joined with the rail industry in supporting plans for a new Global Centre for Rail Excellence, a new rail testing facility proposed by the Welsh Government in South Wales.
UK Welsh Affairs Select Committee Member Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Shadow Wales Secretary Christina Rees MP, Welsh Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters AM, Neath Assembly Member Jeremy Miles AM and Onllwyn Ward Councillor Dean Cawsey visited the site and heard about the proposals that could bring considerable investment, jobs and economic growth to the region. 
The visit was organized 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 Railway Industry Association 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 Railway Industry Association, said: “We were delighted to help showcase this important site to Ms Antoniazzi, Ms Rees, Mr Waters, Mr Miles and Cllr Cawsey today as part of the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme, and would like to thank them for their support in developing the Global Centre of rail excellence.’  
“Rail is a vital sector for the Welsh economy, providing £1.14 bn in economic growth, employing 20,000 people and provides £338 mn in tax revenue. And with a new Global Centre for Rail Excellence, it will contribute even more.”
Will Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Celtic Energy: “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.”

- ENDS –

Notes to Editors

1. For all media enquiries please contact: or telephone: 020 3962 9001
2. About the proposed Global Centre for Rail Excellence: The Global Centre for Rail Excellence proposals include a rail testing complex with 2 electrified oval tracks that will allow for testing speeds of up to 110mph with the option for a tunnel section and a full platform environment for testing and training. Proposals include:
a large, well-equipped maintenance facility
secure storage for around 400 vehicles
a decommissioning facility and an R&D innovation accelerator
education centre with labs
office space and training facilities in a dynamic environment
3. About the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme: The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is an exciting opportunity for UK parliamentarians and commentators to gain an insight into the valuable work of the UK rail supply chain at a RIA Member location. “Fellows” spend a day ‘on location’ with a RIA Member whose work is relevant to their role or constituency and experience opportunities reflecting the great diversity of technical disciplines within the rail sector. Candidates are gaining an invaluable understanding of a diverse workforce that together contribute £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people.  The RIA Rail Fellowship Class of 2019 will be awarded at the annual RIA Parliamentary reception on Tuesday 26th November 2019. For more information, visit: 
 4. About the Railway Industry Association (RIA): The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the trade association for UK-based suppliers to the UK and world-wide railways. It has 290+ companies in membership, in a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.

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