Current infrastructure inadequate for event like Eisteddfod say rail link campaigners
West Wales rail campaigners are pointing to the forthcoming National Eisteddfod in Ceredigion as further evidence for the need for urgent reinstatement of the South Wales to Aberystwyth rail line.
Next Sunday, the National Eisteddfod of Wales will open in the town of Tregaron in Ceredigion, two years later than originally envisaged due to the Covid pandemic.
Traws Link Cymru, the West Wales Rail Campaign group, say that the current transport infrastructure is not adequate to cope with an event which is set to attract large numbers of visitors to the area.
The chair of the group Professor Mike Walker also pointed out the irony of the proximity of the Maes to the disused railway route and claimed it is a “tragedy” that the rail infrastructure to transport visitors to the event was not in place.
He added that the reinstatement of the railway line would be a major stimulus to the economic development of the West Wales region, providing new forms of employment for and retention of young people in the area, and strengthening the Welsh language and culture.
Referring to the approaching event, Professor Walker said: “We would like to take this opportunity to convey our very best wishes to the Eisteddfod organising committee and everyone participating and competing in the nation’s premier cultural event.
“However, in terms of local transport infrastructure there are significant issues that need to be addressed, most notably about the adequacy of the local road transport infrastructure in central Ceredigion and its ability to cope with an event that will bring tens of thousands of visitors into the town of Tregaron and surrounding area.
“There is no trunk road access whatsoever to the town, and a shuttle bus service is having to be provided by a North Wales-based company who were responsible for a similar operation at the 2019 National Eisteddfod held in Llanrwst.
“We are encouraged by the Welsh Government’s newly published National Transport Delivery Plan, which includes a commitment to develop the case for a South Wales to Aberystwyth railway by 2025-2027.
“Indeed, the Tregaron National Eisteddfod highlights beyond any reasonable doubt the urgent need for a restoration of this strategic north-south rail corridor.”
Devolve more powers
Earlier this week The Welsh Government announced its National Transport Delivery Plan 2022 which includes a list of ongoing projects, with plans to develop the case for the railway to Aberystwyth by 2025 and outline the design by 2027, although the document concedes that the planning stage may well move “beyond” that point.
The plan says: “TfW are developing outline plans for improving sustainable transport along travel corridors on the west coast of Wales.
“As part of this work they will identify any potential routes that will need to be reserved for potential future development.”
The transport plan also states an ambition to move people from using cars to using public transport and active travel where possible, and to devolve more powers over transport to Wales, including over rail infrastructure.
Traws Link Cymru was formed in 2013 with aim of reinstating the railway lines between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen, and Afon Wen to Bangor, both of which were closed to passengers under the 1960s Beeching Cuts.
Last year the Welsh Government released a map that hinted that a north-south railway might be in the offing, but nothing has been confirmed so far.
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