Global Centre of Rail Excellence Wales plan

UK: The Welsh Government has confirmed a £50m capital funding loan to Powys Council to support development of the planned Global Centre of Rail Excellence testing facility on a former mining site. This follows the UK government’s announcement of up to £30m of funding in its spring budget.

A land option deal has been completed for the sites at the Nant Helen surface mine and Onllwyn coal washery, under which Celtic Energy will donate all the land needed for the project. A formal planning application has already been submitted.

A company is to be established to manage the test centre project as it transitions from being government-led and industry supported initiative to being industry-led and government supported.

The funding announcement ‘is an enormously significant step forward in our plans to deliver a world class facility with unique to Europe integrated capabilities’, said Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport & North Wales, on March 23. ‘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 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.’