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Campaign to reopen north-south Carmarthen to Bangor rail link launches fundraising drive

06 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Transport for Wales trains currently have to pass through Hereford. Picture by Geof Sheppard (CC BY-SA 4.0).

A campaign to re-open a railway between Carmarthen and Bangor and in doing so reestablish a north-south rail link in Wales has launched a fundraising drive.

Traws Link Cymru was formed in 2013 with aim of reinstating the railway lines between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen, and Afon Wen and Bangor, both of which were closed to passengers under the 1960s Beeching Cuts.

Since then travelling between Carmarthen and Bangor has required a six-hour journey out of Wales and through Hereford, Shrewsbury and Crewe.

Traws Link Cymru are now hoping to raise £5,000 to spend on the campaign to re-open the route. A spokesperson for the campaign said it would “bind the country together to produce a more integrated Wales”.

“Mid- and West Wales are currently some of the most deprived areas of the United Kingdom and, indeed, of Western Europe,” he said.

“Yet this region has considerable potential in terms of tourism and agriculture; it has an employment pool that could service a wide range of small and medium-scale industries; it has three university campuses and several linked colleges of further education on seven campuses; it has the National Library of Wales; the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments; the headquarters of the S4C television channel; and it has a rich and diverse cultural history.

“Realising the potential of this region requires, vision, planning and inward investment. But the poor communications network remains a major drawback. The current road system is inadequate for the region’s needs, and while the existing railway links eastwards from Bangor and Aberystwyth, and east and west from Carmarthen, are both well-used, they do little to improve regional connectivity.

“Traws Link Cymru has argued that new railway lines between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen and Afon Wen and Bangor could provide the stimulus needed to kick-start economic and social regeneration throughout the region.

“Moreover, a railway line running from Bangor in the north to Carmarthen in the south would not only provide an important transport link between industrial south Wales and the rural north, but it would also bind the country together to produce a more integrated Wales. As such, these new railway lines would have considerable strategic and political significance.”

Trackbed

The feasibility study published by the Welsh Government in 2018 confirmed that reopening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth part of the route was technically feasible, but could cost as much as £750m.

The feasibility study did, however, identify some key challenges to reopening the route that would need to be overcome:

  • Protecting the environment at Cors Caron bog near Tregaron
  • The potential flood risk impact of a new bridge over the Towy River, and the fact that significant parts of the route are within areas that can flood
  • The need to move the Gwili Railway steam train to another location
  • The need to demolish some houses along the route, as well as the noise impact on some communities

Two years later Traws Link Cymru carried out their own study and claimed that the cost of reopening the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway could be reduced to around £620 million, 20% less than the Wesh Government’s £775m price tag.

The report, entitled A Strategic Rail Corridor for west Wales comes two years after the Welsh Government published their own feasibility study.

It found that 97 per cent of the original trackbed was clear and that reopening was a realistic prospect.

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