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Welsh Government grants funding to Powys Council for new rail test facility

24 Mar 2021 (Last Updated March 24th, 2021 11:32)

The Welsh Government has announced a $68.56m (£50m) funding loan to Powys Council for the construction of a new Global Centre for Rail Excellence (GCRE).

Welsh Government grants funding to Powys Council for new rail test facility
The new GRCE facility will be constructed on the site of Nant Helen open-cast mine in Onllwyn. Credit: Benjamin Thomas from Pixabay.

The Welsh Government has announced a $68.56m (£50m) funding loan to Powys Council for the construction of a new Global Centre for Rail Excellence (GCRE).

The government teamed up with Neath Port Talbot and Powys councils for developing the proposals for the GCRE.

To be developed in phases, the new facility will be constructed on the site of Nant Helen open-cast mine in Onllwyn, presently being run by Celtic Energy.

GCRE will feature electrified rail testing tracks, dual-platform station environment, rolling stock storage/sidings, rolling stock maintenance facility, as well as a research, development, education and training/conference centre.

Furthermore, a new GCRE firm will be formed as the project will shift from a government-led supported by industry model to an industry-led supported by government variant.

The facility will support the testing of advanced and green technologies, along with other related innovations.

A land option deal has already been finalised through which Celtic Energy will provide all the land required for the project.

A formal planning application will also be submitted this week for a purpose-built, modern railway infrastructure, systems and rolling stock test and validation complex.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “This is an enormously significant step forward in our plans to deliver a world-class facility with unique to Europe integrated capabilities. GCRE will be a powerful ‘magnet’ project bringing a major global industry closer to Wales.

“It will provide a raft of vital services and wide-ranging research, development and innovation platforms to the UK and international train manufacturers, network operators, the wider industry, supply chain and academia. It will also provide significant direct benefits to our national operator Transport for Wales. Working alongside our public and private sector partners we will deliver high-quality jobs and training opportunities whilst supporting Welsh exports for decades to come.”

To support the project, a joint venture was formed between the Welsh Government and both Powys and Neath Port Talbot councils in 2019.

The new facility is expected to commence operations in 2025.