Just over a week ago, the unprecedented rainfall in the tops of the Cynon and Rhondda Valleys caused major disruption to our transportation network as Storm Callum heralded some of the worst flooding in the last 30 years. The rainfall, which reached 180mm or over 7 inches in the top of the Cynon Valley over the Friday and Saturday, caused a number of culverts throughout RCT to exceed their capacity and a number of homes and businesses were consequently flooded, with some residents being evacuated as a result of the excess water.

Despite the best preparatory efforts of the Council in the build-up to the severe weather, including the filling of over 2,500 sandbags, bringing in extra crew and plant machinery, the sheer volume of the rainfall contributed to a number of road closures; although it appears all the new flood defences and reduction measures we have invested in recent years in parts of the county worked well in our high risk areas.

The extensive clean-up operation has been ongoing and remains in place, and we estimate the cost of this first severe winter event to be in excess of £100,000 for the response and clean up alone. The Cabinet has also agreed to the release of a further £100,000 to carry out investigation works and CCTV surveys of inside the culverts.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the Frontline Council staff who worked throughout the weekend to tackle the flooding, with almost 200 calls received from Friday to Sunday.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Government announced £119m of European Union funding to progress the development of the South Wales Metro, which is set to be delivered by 2023 and will bring significant benefits to the public transport system in the South Wales area.

Of the total funding package, £78.4m will be allocated to supporting infrastructure in Rhondda Cynon Taf - with £51.1m going toward delivering much-needed improvements on the Treherbert and Aberdare lines. The remaining funding, constituting £23.7m, will be used to progress the new rail depot at Taffs Well, building on the almost £43m pledged to the project by the Welsh Government through this month’s provisional Budget settlement.

This significant funding announcement now means that work can start on delivering on the aspiration to provide residents of RCT and the neighbouring Valleys with a vastly improved public transport service, with a fleet of new trains already on order to be rolled out from 2021 to 2023.

Whilst Transport for Wales has now taken over the running of the Wales and Borders franchise from Arriva Trains Wales, it’s clear the transformation will not happen overnight. Many of the initial changes will be very minor - such as the branding appearing on uniforms and train exteriors - and it will take a few years before the full benefits are truly felt of the Metro.  By 2023 for example, 95% of journeys will be on new and higher capacity trains, and I am confident that residents of the Valleys can then truly make use of a reliable and fit-for-purpose public transport system that will promote better connectivity through more efficient journeys.

Posted on 24/10/2018