Wales to join Europe's rail elite, while Halton Curve reopens


The Welsh Government has announced that a formal planning application for its £100m Global Centre of Rail Excellence is due for submission in early 2020.

The facility will help the UK join Europe's rail testing elite, as the continents' leading test and validation facilities are currently located in Germany, at the Siemens facility in Wildenrath, and the Czech Republic in Velim near Prague. Both of these have one year waiting lists.

There are limited test facilities in the UK, and no electrified test ovals for continuous running, meaning that manufacturers have to send trains across to Europe for testing.

The approximately 7km electrified test oval providing a maximum line speed of 110mph. The top of speed of France's TGV bullet train, where the commercial services' top speeds are roughly 186pmh, or the 225mph or HS2.

However, rail expert, Christian Wolmar, told Transport Network there is effectively 'no such thing as a test track for high speed trains; these trains are tested on the actual tracks'. 

'The test track will not be able to test at these top speeds because it won't have time to get up to them. It takes a mile to stop these high speed trains,' he said.

He adds that software is the major source of testing delays, highlighting that the Gospel Oak Line needed 33 iterations before going into service. 

The project is 'fully focused' on the preferred Onllwyn/Nant Helen site in the Dulais Valley, following the Strategic Outline Case for a Global Centre of Rail Excellence being released in June 2018.

Under a Joint Venture Agreement between the Government and Neath Port Talbot and Powys councils, the team has commissioned environmental impact surveys.


The current proposals, which will be subject to further research, Environmental Impact Assessment studies and consultation, include:

  • A separate and unique infrastructure test track facility incorporating a platform and station environment;
  • A large well equipped maintenance facility;
  • Secure storage for 400 rail carriages;
  • A decommissioning facility;
  • An R&D and education centre including labs, office space, and training facilities in a dynamic environment away from the operational network.

Economy and transport minister Ken Skates said: 'In line with the new approach our Economic Action Plan sets out, this project takes us in a new direction. Our aim is to create a facility attracting the leading lights of the business world and draw them to put down long lasting and valuable roots in Wales.'

It is estimated that the facility will need around £100m investment and would employ around 400 people in the construction phase and upwards of 150 people permanently when fully operational in all aspects.

The Transport Minister has also written to the Secretary of State for Transport, and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, asking for their support. The GCRE is closely aligned with UK Government as well as Welsh Government policy objectives.


Halton Curve reopened 

Direct trains have started running between north Wales, Cheshire and Liverpool on the 2km ‘Halton Curve’ - a stretch of track last used over 40 years ago.

It is thought the new service could generate 250,000 new passenger trips a year and remove 170,000 road journeys from routes including the M56 and A55.

The £14.5m project was funded through Local Growth Funding awarded by Government to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, and also received capital from the region's Combined Authority.

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Project Engineer (Permanent)

Havant Borough Council
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Project Engineer (Fixed Term)

Havant Borough Council
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Contract Supervisor

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£31,013 - £36,486 depending on skills, knowledge and experience
The role of Contract Supervisor (Waste and Street Cleansing) will require you to support ambitious plans to provide services for residents Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Flood Risk Manager

Birmingham City Council
£43,662 - £54,574
The role requires the post holder to be the lead professional for the Authority’s Flood Risk Management and drainage function Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Head of Highways & Transport

Lewisham London Borough Council
up to £72,705
As our lead expert on highways and transport, you will set the direction and lead on all transport related matters Lewisham, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lewisham London Borough Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part time, job share and flexible working basis. The salary is u England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director

Hounslow London Borough Council
Up to £82k
Working across a wide range of high profile direct services, the emphasis for this role is on partnership working. Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Head of Parks and Environmental Services

Harrogate Borough Council
£58,778 - £61,882
You will have experience at a senior level in the management and delivery of front line services relevant to the functions Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: Harrogate Borough Council

Programme Technician/Engineer

Norfolk County Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
This is a challenging position which involves working across wide ranging activities. Norwich, Norfolk
Recuriter: Norfolk County Council

Principal Transport Planner – 2 posts (Warrington Waterfront Western Link)

Warrington Borough Council
£40,760 - £43,662 plus essential car user allowance
We are looking to form a new Warrington Waterfront Western Link Team and we are looking to fill a number of key posts Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Director of Integrated Transport

Liverpool City Region
Salary up to £124,848
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is embarking on a search for an exceptional individual with the passion to deliver on our vision Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Region

Highways Manager

Oxford Direct Services
Oxford Direct Services
Recuriter: Oxford Direct Services

Data Entry Administrator

Telford & Wrekin Council
£18,795 - £19,171
Telford & Wrekin’s Public Protection Service is looking for an enthusiastic and self-motivated Data Entry Administrator Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Transport Planner

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 to £38,423
You’ll have previous experience of working in a transport/planning/accessible transport environment Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Parking Business Administrator Level 3 Apprenticeship

Brent Council
£15,000 p.a. inc.
This role will support the Brent Parking Team work to provide administrative support for both the Notice Processing Team Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Principal Engineer (Development)

Liverpool City Council
£37,849 - £42,683
Liverpool City Council wish to recruit a Principal Engineer (Development) to provide managerial and technical support. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Traffic Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
We are looking to recruit a Traffic Manager to join our Highways team Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Team Leader x2 - Passenger Transport

Redbridge London Borough Council
£27,228 - £28,215 per annum
You will be responsible for overseeing the duties of Passenger Transport drivers as well as providing support to the service and managers. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

UTMC Engineer

Warrington Borough Council
£31,371 - £34,788
You will support the UTMC Principal Engineer and work as part of a team responsible for all aspects of Urban Traffic Management and Control Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Programme Assurance Manager Public Realm

Westminster City Council
£46,293 - £49,203 per annum
A graduate, or have equivalent experience, and you can show evidence of continued professional, managerial and personal development... City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council