TRANSPORT FOR Wales has awarded Early Contractor Involvement contracts to Balfour Beatty, Alun Griffiths and Siemens Mobility for initial works in the Core Valley Lines (CVL) modernisation, which will include 25kV electrification.

The contracts cover control systems, track and station works and the tram-train maintenance depot in Taff’s Well. The contractors will work with TfW on planning and development, prior to what TfW describes as ‘the major stages of the procurement process for engineering projects’.

Work has already commenced at the Taff’s Well site, where industrial buildings have been cleared of asbestos.Demolition began in July. ‘All land required for the development has been acquired and we are currently within our budget of £100 million’ said a TfW spokesman.

‘Since the publication of the drawings for the outline planning application, we are continuing to update the site layout to reflect the requirements of the design for CVL transformation. We will publish the updated plans once this piece of work is completed.’

The Welsh Government aims to take ownership of the Core Valley Lines in September, enabling franchisee KeolisAmey to manage and operate the infrastructure and trains together. The CVL are the lines north of Cardiff Queen Street, including the Cwmbargoed freight-only line, the Cardiff Bay branch and the City line between Radyr and Ninian Park.

DB Cargo told the Office of Rail and Road in March it was concerned the asset transfer would be a breach of its track access contract with Network Rail, would increase bureaucracy with DB Cargo needing two access contracts, and would result in additional charges from TfW for using the CVL which could be far in excess of Network Rail’s charges.

Freightliner said access to the infrastructure should be contracted via Network Rail. West Coast Railway Company asked for firm assurances that access for existing traction and rolling stock would be maintained, although it conceded that charter trains rarely operate on the CVL. Rhodri Clark