A regional transport sub-committee will be created to develop proposals for the first phase of a Swansea Bay Metro project that would cover Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.
The project is aimed at better connecting communities across the Swansea Bay City Region by public transport, while also developing improved rail and bus links with other parts of the UK.
More frequent servicing of stations is planned as part of a proposal that would also help the region cut its carbon emissions by reducing reliance on cars.
The proposal will support and build on work that’s already being done to develop plans for a Swansea Bay Metro system.
This includes the work of Professor Mark Barry, of Cardiff University, who the Welsh Government commissioned to develop plans for better rail connectivity in South West Wales.
It also includes studies being carried out by Transport for Wales, in partnership with the Welsh Government and regional local authorities, which focus on developing other areas of public transport to support railway service improvements.
Until the end of March next year, funding for the regional transport sub-committee will come from the Welsh Government as part of a strategic review of regional transportation systems.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Region’s Joint Committee, said: “The Swansea Bay Metro isn’t a City Deal project yet, but I’d welcome its inclusion in future because transport has been identified as a key area for improvement in the Swansea Bay City Region.
“These improvements are vital to help turbocharge our regional economy, attract investment and create jobs by improving public transport connections between our communities and developing better links with cities like Cardiff, Bristol and London
“Building on the great work that’s been done so far and working closely in partnership with Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government and other partners, the regional transport sub-committee will soon explore ways of improving the frequency and efficiency of regional railway services that meet the needs of all parts of South West Wales, while also putting plans in place to improve bus services and improved facilities for people to walk or cycle to work.
“Supporting major developments being generated by the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal, an integrated Swansea Bay Metro public transport network would also help the region meet its climate change responsibilities by encouraging less car journeys.”
Swansea Bay Metro proposals will help the region take advantage of the £20 million West Wales Parkway railway station plan for Felindre announced by the UK Government’s Secretary of State of Wales.
“Improvements of this kind are welcome in principle, but they must form part of a regional public transport solution,” said Cllr Stewart.
“It’s also crucial that this proposal doesn’t impact on the regularity of services into stations like Swansea and Neath.”
Terms of reference for the regional transport sub-committee will now be developed for Joint Committee’s approval. The group will be made up of transport cabinet members from all four Swansea Bay City Region local authorities, with support from senior transport officers.
A detailed Swansea Bay Metro first phase proposal is expected to be submitted by the end of March next year to the Welsh Government for consideration.