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Campaigners welcome decision for MSs to debate reopening railway lines across Wales

16 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Afon Wen railway station in 1962. Photo Ben-Brooksbank is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Inset Gwynedd councillor Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn

A group calling for the reopening of railway lines across Wales has welcomed a decision which will see their campaign debated in the Senedd.

A meeting of the Petitions Committee in the Senedd last week resulted in MSs agreeing that a petition to reopen former rail links between Bangor, Caernarfon and Afonwen and Aberystwyth and Carmarthen should go forward for a full debate in the Senedd.

The petition was submitted by Gwynedd councillor Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn after it collected a total of 12,936 signatures.

Last year Mr ap Elwyn, a married dad-of-two, from Trawsfynydd, and Plaid Cymru councillor for Bowydd and Rhiw, Blaenau Ffestiniog, walked 206 miles from Bangor to Cardiff as part of the Traws Link Cymru (TLC) campaign to restore and build new railways.

The petition called for:

A Scoping and Feasibility study for the Bangor to Afon Wen Line

Commitment to spend any funding for the railways from Westminster on reinstating the railway lines.

Develop a blueprint of the rail route between Bangor and Cardiff on the proposed route.

Look at other routes within Wales that would be beneficial on a national and local level to reopen.

Major step forward

Traws Link Cymru chair Mike Walker said: “This is a major step forward for the campaign. Moreover, it is encouraging to see that a feasibility study, like that carried out on the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway line is now to be undertaken on the connection from Afon Wen to Bangor in north Wales.”

The cost of reopening the lines is estimated to be £2bn over 10 years. While it was accepted that this is a large sum, the Committee noted that this was half of the money due to Wales under the Barnett formula following the termination of HS2.

No timetable was set for the debate in the Senedd, but it was expected that this might take place in the early Autumn, by which time the feasibility study for the northern link would have been completed.

The Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line was closed to passengers in February 1965 as part of Dr Beeching’s cull of “unprofitable services”. Bangor to Afon Wen was also axed as part of the Beeching cuts, closing in December 1964.


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Gwyn Hopkins
Gwyn Hopkins
1 month ago

The fact that there is no rail connection entirely within Wales between south and north Wales is scandalous and ludicrous. The decision of the UK government (recommended by Dr Beeching) to severe the line between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth was both grossly insulting and disparaging to our country. It was ostensibly to stop this railway line from making a loss. It was also completely unimaginative for even a 10 year old child could have deduced that doing away with the line would eliminate the loss. The sooner it is reinstated the better.       

June Davies
June Davies
1 month ago

I travel all over Wales by train and would love to see more routes and more stations… but this obsession with Aberystwyth to Carmarthen is a worry. It was a basket case even in the 1960s and would be an absolute money pit today. It would gobble up billions in construction and millions in ongoing costs in return for a service that would be slower than the bus and serve fewer people. Aberystwyth to South Wales and Carmarthen to North Wales would likely always be quicker via the Marches even if we rebuilt this line. So all it would ever… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  June Davies

Sadly people are fixated on this line, but I’m pretty sure that those same people would be up in arms in later years at the levels of subsidy necessary to keep the line open. As you say, services along this line would be considerably slower than a bus. It would be a very scenic route, but much of the current routes are also very scenic and I’m sure have some tourism appeal, but this is hardly sufficient to maintain services. The Bangor – Caernarfon – Afonwen line, on the other hand makes a great deal of sense as the distance… Read more »

John Ellis
John Ellis
1 month ago

I do, to a rather limited extent, welcome this initiative to at least explore the possibility of restoring pan-Wales railway services. However the cost of recreating these lines will surely be enormous, given that in most cases the track has been removed and the land on which these railways once operated has, at least in some instances, been sold off. But the biggest hindrance that I foresee is that, given the topography of much of rural Wales, any passenger services that might be restored would be tediously slow, and in reality most passengers needing to travel between the populated north… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
27 days ago
Reply to  John Ellis

Sadly most of those in favour of re-opening those old lines, that only ever were branch lines, live in Lala Land when it comes to the practical considerations of running a modern railway.

John Ellis
John Ellis
27 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

That’s certainly how it seems to me. I’m old enough to have travelled – for a very short time before it was finally completely closed early in 1965 – on the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth passenger rail service. For a local trip it was fine, even if Richard Beeching’s review deemed it unprofitable. But there’s no way that these lines, if even they were at vast cost reinstated, could convey passengers from, say, Cardiff and Swansea to Llandudno and Bangor in a journey time which your average passenger would find tolerable. It’s total fantasyland! If money’s going to be spent on… Read more »

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