The Anonymous Widower

South Wales Metro Railway Works Imminent

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

Work starts on the third of August and is described in this sentence,

TfW is now starting to build the South Wales Metro which will see major infrastructure works including the electrification of over 170km of track mostly with overhead lines, station and signalling upgrades and the construction of at least five new stations.

It will be one of the most innovative electrification projects ever performed in the UK, as it uses discontinuous electrification.

I explained discontinuous electrification in More On Discontinuous Electrification In South Wales, where I said this.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the electrification on the South Wales Metro.

KeolisAmey has opted to use continuous overhead line equipment but discontinuous power on the Core Valley Lnes (CVL), meaning isolated OLE will be installed under bridges. On reaching a permanently earthed section, trains will automatically switch from 25 KVAC overhead to on-board battery supply, but the pantograph will remain in contact with the overhead cable, ready to collect power after the section. The company believes this method of reducing costly and disruptive engineering works could revive the business cases of cancelled electrification schemes. Hopes of having money left over for other schemes rest partly on this choice of technology.

Other points made include.

    • A total of 172 km. of track will be electrified.
    • The system is used elsewhere, but not in the UK.
    • Disruptive engineering works will be avoided on fifty-five structures.
    • Between Radyr and Ninian Park stations is also proposed for electrification.

Nothing is said about only electrifying the uphill track, which surely could be a way of reducing costs.

I wrote the last sentence, as surely coming down the hills, the trains can be powered by Newton’s friend.

The New Stations

This article on Business Live, gives the list of new stations and their completion dates.


If the builders crack on as they did at Horden station, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those dates achieved, with time to spare.

July 10, 2020 - Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , ,


  1. Having overhead wires with no electricity in them? What is the point?
    I have the feeling the SW Metro needs a rethink now battery-electric trains are here. Much of the 170km of overhead wiring may not be needed. Obvious things like wires for trains going up the valleys and battery going down.

    I read snippets that Vivarail D-Stock trains may be used on the SW Metro. The Merseyrail sepecced Class 777s look at good bet as well, being easily converted to battery and/or overhead wires. New 3rd rail is now out.

    Comment by John | July 10, 2020 | Reply

    • They mean the driver doesn’t have to pan down and pan up all the time. It just rides on a ceramic insulator between one electrified section and the next using battery power and kinetic energy.

      I think they could use gravity coming down. Bivarail will be used on the Isle of Wight.

      Comment by AnonW | July 10, 2020 | Reply

      • So fake wires to keep the pantograph in place. I still cannot see why if the fake wires are constructed, they cannot have electricity run through them. Most of the work is already done. It sound like penny pinching to me.

        Comment by John | July 10, 2020

  2. SW Metro is having 5 new stations and electrifying radial lines out from Cardiff. To me that us updating of existing lines. I have not read of anything like what was done to create Merseyrail, which was joining up radial lines converging on Liverpool’s centre, creating a nth-sth crossrail in the Northern Line. There was to be an east-west crossrail, but they did not electrify lines from St.Helens/Wigan (completed in 2015) to Liverpool Central or put track into the Wapping Tunnel.

    Have I missed something on the SW Metro?

    Comment by John | July 10, 2020 | Reply

  3. The reason for having the continuous path for the pantograph as dead, is that it keeps the volts away from the stupid, who might climb all over it! We must protect trespassers and graffiti artists.

    BR ran out of money in Liverpool!

    Comment by AnonW | July 10, 2020 | Reply

    • The substantial underground burrowing junction south of Liverpool Central was built complete with header tunnels to branch into the Wapping Tunnel. This would have created the east-west crossrail line. As the Liverpool-Wigan line is now electrified there is no reason not to finish off the Wapping tunnel. The Class 319s on the route can have the 3rd rail shoes easily fitted back onto the trains to run into the central Liverpool underground section. Trains from Leeds and Manchester can serve the cruise ships at James St, with Manchester trains reaching the Liverpool business quarter of the city at Moorfields turning back at Sandhills or Kirkdale.

      Reusing the Wapping Tunnel is an urgent need in the Liverpool City Region. As the Liverpool-Wigan line is now electrified there is no major obstacles in the way.

      The reason it never went ahead after so much had been built for it, was that Thatcher got into power in early 1979. She canned the lot, backed and prompted by Tory MP Stein (heavy in the expenses scandal).

      Comment by John | July 10, 2020 | Reply

    • Are any lines in the SW Metro being being merged as was done at Merseyrail, or is it just: new trains, electrification and branding?

      Comment by John | July 10, 2020 | Reply

  4. Are any lines in the SW Metro being being merged as was done at Merseyrail, or is it just: new trains, electrification and branding?

    Comment by John | July 10, 2020 | Reply

  5. As I see it, the SW Metro is bus, tram and train lines connecting relying on one another. I cannot see anything substantial on the rail side being done, only updating existing lines and new trains.

    Was I right?

    Comment by John | July 10, 2020 | Reply

  6. reports that work has started on installing the power lines (though doesn’t state where exactly).

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 11, 2022 | Reply

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