VALE AM Jane Hutt has praised an essential rail scheme that could ultimately allow for more frequent services on the Vale of Glamorgan line.

Network Rail is currently undertaking engineering works at Barry station to bring disused ‘Platform 3’ back into use. A new back platform loop of track will also be installed, dedicated to the Barry Island service.

Work has been ongoing since autumn 2013 and, when complete, will improve reliability and unlock the potential for more trains to run between Barry and Cardiff, as well as Barry and Bridgend, via Llantwit Major.

Visiting the site on Friday, Vale of Glamorgan Assembly Member, Jane Hutt said: “The expansion to the infrastructure at the station is a huge step forward for Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan, and it’s exciting to see it taking shape.

“Crucially, the work is key to unlocking the potential for more frequent services. This will ultimately have significant economic and social benefits by improving access to jobs, education and training opportunities in Cardiff and elsewhere along the line.”

The work at the station is part of a wider £220m scheme to improve services into Cardiff from the Valleys and Vale by 2015. Improvements will be undertaken at Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street stations, as well as the renewal of the signalling across the network. To provide extra capacity for services to Cardiff, additional platforms are also being constructed at a number of stations, including at Caerphilly, Pontypridd and Tir-Phil.

Due for completion by 2015, the £220m congestion busting scheme, with funding of £23m from the Welsh Government, will potentially provide hundreds of extra rush-hour seats each day on rail services on the network.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said: “Cardiff has the largest travelling workforce in Wales with around 37 per cent of the all workers commuting from neighbouring authorities, like the Vale of Glamorgan. A large number of that workforce relies on rail and usage continues to increase adding further demand on an already-congested railway. Enhancing the infrastructure at Barry is part of a wider bank of works in the South Wales region in helping to cater for the extra demand from the region.”

Lis Burnett, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation at Vale of Glamorgan council, who joined Jane Hutt for the site visit said: “More and more people now choose to travel by rail to get to and from work and to access leisure activities. Infrastructure improvements to enable more frequent services on this line will deliver on important economic, environmental and social goals for the communities across the Vale of Glamorgan.”

The project at Barry is set to complete in the spring and the station will remain open during construction.