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Disused Anglesey railway looks for funding boost to reopen

17 Mar 2021 4 minutes Read
The short branch leading away west from the disused line to Amlwch served the former Shell Oil Depot near Rhosgoch. Picture by Ralph Rawlinson, geograph.org.uk

Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter

The UK Government has been urged to help fund a £100,000 feasibility study into what to do with a disused railway line spanning much of central Anglesey.

Until the ceasing of freight services in 1993, the Anglesey Central Railway connected Amlwch with the North Wales coastline at Gaerwen.

But with some having long harboured hopes that trains will once again run along the tracks, 2012 saw the granting of a licence by Network Rail to a local group to begin the arduous task of clearing the overgrown line spanning almost 18 miles.

Since then, the Lein Amlwch group have been successful in clearing several miles of track in the hopes of once again re-opening the line to regular passengers for the first time since 1964.

But with others preferring to see the line used as the basis for a multi-use path – including walking, running, cycling and horse riding – it is hoped that the feasibility study could look at all of the various options.

The bid has now been presented to the UK Government’s Restoring Your Railways Fund, with the Welsh government having already committed to match funding the £50,000 on offer if successful.

According to Virginia Crosbie MP, who has now presented the funding bid with Menter Môn, Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government and Anglesey Council, ways of putting the line back into use include restoring it as a railway, using some form of light rail alternative or developing it into a cycle and walking path.

She added that such an option could potentially open up a route from Newborough to Amlwch – linking the south and north of the island and joining up with the Anglesey Coastal Path.

“This line is a major island resource that is lying in ruins and we need to find the best way to bring it back to life to boost transport links to our communities and promote tourism,” she said.

“I have held meetings with many groups who are interested in the line’s future and a variety of ideas are on the table.

“The way forward now is to secure this funding so the feasibility study can be conducted to identify the best way to bring this great community asset back into use.

It’s important to stress the fact the bid is to the Restoring Your Railways Fund does not mean that a railway is the way forward. All options are on the table.”

‘Underinvestment’

Her counterpart in the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, added:  “We’ve made a lot of headway in recent years towards bringing this valuable resource back to use, and with enthusiasts supporting rail and path options bringing a lot of energy and ideas to the table, and it’s good to see Menter Môn now leading research on how both can be delivered together innovatively.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my discussions with them and seeing the plans coming together.

“Expanding the public transport network is a goal we should all strive for, as well as encouraging more physical activity outdoors.

“Having made sure Welsh Government is on board, I’d love to see UK Government doing a bit of investing in rail in Wales too, after years of chronic underinvestment.”

With a previous bid being refused after the Department for Transport asked for more information, this has now been supplied as part of the latest submission on March 5.

A decision is expected during the summer.

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