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The £600 million Metro project cannot be a "silver bullet" for the South Wales economy on its own, according to a report commissioned by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales.

The report's author, Dr Mark Lang, said there is little evidence from international cities of how a Metro system benefits the wider economy, particularly in areas further afield from the project's central hub - in this case, the surrounding counties that make up the Cardiff Capital Region.

Dr Lang said: “The balance of international evidence suggests that transport investment is not, as some would argue, an economic ‘silver bullet’.

“Context is critical, and in that respect South East Wales, and Wales more generally, needs to have a more open and honest debate about what sort of country we want to be and what is important to us.

“Only by addressing this question, can we design the right economic context within which infrastructural investments such as the Metro have a chance of delivering meaningful outcomes.”

The report calls for greater research into how South Wales towns and cities are connected, and how particularly poor areas can be best supported. It also calls for a more comprehensive set of factors to assess the success of the Metro project.

Dr Lang said: “That aside, the extremely poor transport network in South East Wales cannot be ignored. Nor can the ignorance of the extremely poor economic performance of the region, or its social consequences, be acceptable.

Cardiff Metro

"The reality is that transport, or any other form of infrastructural investment, will not of itself address the underlying economic problems of South East Wales or the social consequences.

“Perhaps, just perhaps, if steered toward the best approach to equitable outcomes, it could form part of a a broader answer.”

Janet Jones, chair of FSB Wales' policy unit, said: “Whilst there is broad support for the Metro project important questions remain over what sort of economic impact the scheme will have.

“At FSB Wales we are particularly concerned that any regeneration benefits from the project must be felt not only in Cardiff, but in communities across South East Wales that are served by the Metro network.

“The Metro scheme may be one of the biggest single investments in infrastructure in South East Wales and forms an important part of the Cardiff City Deal, but we need to ensure that it produces the best possible outcomes for our communities.”