Government urged to crack on with Aberystwyth-Carmarthen rail line after report finds it could be done

A train passess Castell Coch near Cradiff. Picture: Train Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Welsh and UK governments have been urged to crack on with rebuilding a railway line between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen after a feasibility study found it could be done.

The proposed route would begin in Carmarthen and pass through Pencader, Llanybydder, Lampeter, Tregaron, and Llanilar before arriving at Aberystwyth.

The feisability study published over the weekend confirmed that reopening the route was technically fesiable, but could cost as much as £750m.

However, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards said that the cost would be “minuscule in comparison to the £100bn projected spend on the England-only HS2 railway”.

“We in Plaid Cymru have been campaigning for our fair share of rail investment, which has seen Wales lose out to the tune of £5bn,” he said.

“This could fund a host of infrastructure projects including the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line.”

Campaign group Traws Link Cymru have been lobbying for the reopening of the line as the first leg of a journey that would link up the north and south of the country along the west coast.

The proposed route

Challenges

The feasibility study did, however, identify some key challenges to reopning 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 ond some communities

The report also notes that the economic benefit of reopening the route is likely to be low, due to low local population levels along the route.

Ceredigion MP Ben Lake said that while the report had “thrown up many of the environmental and logistical constraints” it had shown that reopening the route was possible.

“I hope that communities along the route will now join together to consider the report’s implications and to put pressure on governments to take the project to the next stage,” he said.

“I’ll be seeking an urgent meeting with the UK Railways Minister to discuss the report.”

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