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‘No chance’ of rail link between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth being restored in next 40 years, councillors told

08 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Carmarthen railway station. Photo by David Jones is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter

Hopes of a reinstated railway line directly linking Carmarthen to Aberystwyth are unlikely to reach fruition in the next 30 or 40 years, Ceredigion councillors have been told.

Re-opening the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen rail line has long been a call shared by many, including both members of Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats locally.

The line originally closed as a result of the Beeching cuts in February 1965; predicted costs for its re-opening are as high as £800 million.

Back in 2020, West Wales Rail Campaign group Traws Link Cymru published a report with new research into the reopening of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway.

The report, entitled ‘A Strategic Rail Corridor for west Wales’ came two years after the Welsh Government published its own feasibility study, citing no major obstacles to reopening, and that the new railway would cost approximately £775m.

Feasibility study

The 2018 feasibility study broadly confirmed the findings of an initial scoping study of 2015, notably that 97 percent of the original trackbed was clear and that reopening was a realistic prospect.

Since then, any hopes of reopening the line appear to be many years away, members of Ceredigion County Council’s Thriving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard.

The committee was discussing walking and footpath schemes on old railway lines in the county; the potential reopening of the line having an effect on  such schemes.

Members, discussing potential use of the old line, heard that, despite “an aspiration to improve the railway links between Carmarthenshire and Aberystwyth,” the proposals were likely to take many years, effectively allowing any alternative use to enjoy a long usage.

Professor Stuart Cole CBE asked if there was any definitive answer from Welsh Government on whether the scheme would go ahead any time soon, estimating there was “no chance at all” of it reopening in “the next 40 years”.

Phil Jones, Corporate Manager Highways Services, said: “It is something we would like to have a definitive answer on because it is always in the back of our minds. But, I think for the purposes of expanding our active travel along these railway lines, if nothing’s going to happen in the next 30 or 40 years, the green light has been given for us to carry on with our proposals.”

Councillor Keith Henson said: “In the long term maybe we’ll be looking at bringing the railway back, but in the short term we’ve got the opportunities to expand  on the use of the old railway line, an opportunity to use the line for some purpose.

“The MP [Ben Lake] and the MS [Elin Jones] are very supportive with regard to the railway reopening, but that’s in the very long term.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Where there is a will…sod it, lets just give up…

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
10 months ago

I cannot see it happening before independence.

Until then the current UK regime will keep taking our wealth to spend on themselves.

I hope Plaid Cymru does make large electoral gains against the pro-UK unionist parties.
It will make Welsh Labour reconsider their position on the UK.

I hope the Liberal democrats do well in England – They to be the only party that could prevent England from becoming a failed state.

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago

I remain sceptical about the real value of this rail connection to the local communities along that route. However these open discussions about subjects like the revival of a west rail corridor reveal the complete indifference among the ruling regime towards any kind of traffic along that western corridor. Given Waters’ recent pronouncements about roads and the reduction in funding for bus routes it seems that Drakeford and his crew will enforce a revival of horses and carts in that territory between Aber and Caerfyrddin. So much for being “innovative”, “progressive” and all that other bollox trotted out by Bay… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

It does not give a body much hope…I once did the TC stagecoach Dol to Cardiff and back, never again but I would love to do that journey by rail. From Mach of course as the train now standing in Dol station is a sixty year old apparition… Now I’ve been informed that unless I live until I’m a 110 plus I’ve no chance… If I was graduating from Aber in a couple of months I would have my bags packed ready and my ticket to ride out of here into the sunset to land in a new dawn… Our… Read more »

Alun
Alun
10 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I don’t see the beneficiaries as being simply the local communities along the route. Opening a continuous line up the west coast from Carmarthen – Aberystwyth – Bangor would create a figure of eight rail system and reinivigorate the whole Welsh rail network (albeit with much of the Marches Line being in England). Because everything would connect with no dead ends it would lead to more users on all our lines.

Open the railways, for god sake.
Open the railways, for god sake.
10 months ago
Reply to  Alun

I always say (rather pointlessly) that if I’m Prime Minister, or First Minister or whoever the hell is in charge… Give Wales proper infrastructure. Wales should have its own coastal M25 that makes use of the A40, A487, A55, A483 and the A470. Connect to Welsh Main Line (Great Western Mainline – Swansea, connecting to Carmarthen) to the corridor you mentioned, stretching down the the Manchester line that TfW run.

Jeff Morgan
Jeff Morgan
7 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

The rail link between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth was destroyed by the Tory Transport minister acting through Beeching.. The minister was in business with road building. So destroying railways, was in his financial interest. We pay £3 billion in Wales to build the Hs2. That money is more than enough to restore Carmarthen link. Also to restore Valleys direct to Swanseaa again destroyed by Beeching!

Andy
Andy
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Morgan

The general election in October 1964 returned a Labour government under Prime Minister Harold Wilson after 13 years of Conservative government. During the election campaign Labour had promised to halt rail closures if elected, but it quickly backtracked, and later oversaw some of the most controversial closures.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

Ah, Why do so many Cymric people think it’s okay to keep their country a Backwater, with so little infrastructure? Cities in England and travel between those cities are already 30-40 years ahead of their counterparts in Wales. This sort of attitude will mean Wales falls even further behind.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
10 months ago

Huh? Cant have a railway because there’s a footpath? What a weak reason. The true reason is that the unionist Welsh government want to keep Cymru divided as a country, linking gogledd Cymru to the ‘North West Power House’ and sout Wales to Bristol. This is why they have always put a spoke in the wheel of any north-south railway connection. I hope I live to see the breakup of this Victorian backwater called the UK. That would be one thing worth staying alive for.

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
10 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

The M4 terminates at Pont Abraham because of the troubles in the north of Eire It was politically expedient anti Cymru and Eire not to go further west

Riki
Riki
10 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

That’s exactly right! It’s almost akin to what the communists and Capitalists did to Korea. Both the governments of England and Wales seem to want to forge connections between the North of Wales and North West England and Southern Wales to South West England. The last thing they want is a United Wales!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Riki

That is an interesting comparison, have you read ‘American Caesar’ by William Manchester about General MacArthur?

Now what he did for Japan after World War 2 was remarkable, before he got to Korea, the forgotten war…

Riki
Riki
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

No I haven’t. Where would I be able to acquire said piece?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Riki

I use ebay or abe…world books on ebay have a couple of buy it nows for under a fiver.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Okay buddy, Thx.

John Davies
John Davies
10 months ago

They’d have to reinstate the Towy bridge in Caerfyrddin and they’d have to cross the bypass to the east of the town. Both would be expensive. The Gwili Valley railway would have to be accommodated somehow. Apart from that much of the trackbed seems clear. Given that the curvatures and gradients on the route do not encourage fast running, perhaps the line could be constructed to light railway standards with an appropriate speed limit? At the moment there may be limited use for such a route. But as car use comes under increasing pressure for ecological reasons, the case for… Read more »

Geraint
Geraint
10 months ago
Reply to  John Davies

I think you will find that when they built the bypass they aligned the road way in such a way that there was enough space to allow the steam railway line to run back into town at a later date. I believe there is just enough space for a single track line to pass next to the bypass under the Llandeilo road bridge which is the key pinch point before you get to the Gwili steam line which now ends very close to this point.

Last edited 10 months ago by Geraint
CWL
CWL
10 months ago

All that matters now is the route is safeguarded for reopening. The question of when is all about funding.

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
10 months ago

Join Glangwili to Carmarthen station track
You can immediately open up Wales for steam excursions access to the hospital and open the way for the reopening of the line towards Aber and the towns on route

Win win win

Have done this in steam in summer and in full on snow before closure
A real experience

John Davies
John Davies
10 months ago

Towy Bridge?

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
10 months ago

I think that the problem is that many of us are thinking that a public utility like the railway link should really be built with Government funding. However, perhaps we need to think in terms of raising private finding and get on with making a start. Flying a kite here, as I have not done any on the ground surveying, but my memory is that the A40 to the A485 roundabout is a four lane affair. It strikes me that the north (ie eastbound) carriageway could become the railway while the south (westbound) carriageway could become a two way section.… Read more »

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Quite right, Peter. But the proposal was always out of scale. Light Rail (LR) would be much cheaper and faster to build using pre-formed track, and trams we could make in Cymru. Financed by the people of Cymru and Modern Monetary Theory, it could be operating within 4y. The tramway could carry freight in airline containers. Apart from maintaining existing tracks, we should eschew Heavy Rail (HR) and adopt LR to firstly connect our large towns then improve accessibility within the cities.. More bang for the buck!

We need more enterprise, but just don’t expect it to be profitable.

Paul Hoskins
Paul Hoskins
10 months ago

Which comes first, independence or a rail link between Caerfyrddin and Aberystwyth. Whichever, both are linked.

mik flynn
mik flynn
10 months ago

It never made money from the start so how would is survive against a bus service

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago
Reply to  mik flynn

Bus service ? What bus service? Oh you mean the ones being defunded by the visionaries in that Bay Bubble !

Alun
Alun
10 months ago
Reply to  mik flynn

It’s a public service, not a business. It shouldn’t need to make money. Anyway, there’s so much big picture stuff not factored into the conventional narrow business model – carbon emissions, public health, equality…

Andy
Andy
5 months ago
Reply to  Alun

Does the public want this service?

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
10 months ago

But plenty of cash forvthe valley and Cardiff Metro. Once again South Wales First secend and third.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
10 months ago

Carmarthen is in South Wales, you probably mean South East Wales.

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago

While watching the cycling from the Basque country, the commentator mentioned the quality of the roads, and said, in the 80s the roads were deemed unusable by the EU, so billions was spent upgrading the infrastructure. Match funding was used, this has been denied to us by the UK Gov, same with our railways, we all know the only answer to this problem, let’s hope the younger generation, growing up with devolution can push us towards the goal of being able to fix this ourselves.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Perhaps the next generation could study Hanes Cymru, there are so many examples of great thinkers and doers over the last 300 years to take inspiration and courage from…

The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 is a must for any kid in high school…

John Williams
John Williams
10 months ago

“They’re politically fraught decisions and it feels like… sometimes the most attractive strategy is just to keep studying the issue… Keep the impression in people’s minds that you’re doing something, without actually having to make any hard decisions.” (Saga of Vancouver Island rail corridor: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/en-railway-trains-mcelroy-2023-1.6779132)Sound familiar?

Tom Richardson
Tom Richardson
10 months ago

The Welsh Government can’t organise the trainlines they’ve got open now. It’s a shambles. Tired getting on a train yesterday from Cwmbran to Abergavenny even though I bought tickets weeks ago the original train I was suppose to get on was full to the brim and the train after that was also full. Not just me and my partner were left stranded a number of us were. Even an elderly gentleman was trying to get to Oxford to visit his family over the Easter period was left straned and he had a Change over in Hereford which kept missing because… Read more »

Open the railways, for god sake.
Open the railways, for god sake.
10 months ago

The government want people to use public transport… So let us! The railways are by far the most effective way to keep rural communities connected, but they won’t use rail or road links. Funny that the incumbents in Westminster and Downing Street are so focused on how great we used to be, yet refuse to make use of it – old RAILWAYS, for example. Bring back nationalised rail, I say… (I know Westminster aren’t strictly responsible, but the Senedd follows the exact same policy of abandoning rural communities, it’s been happening since Thatcher shut down British Rail) More proof that… Read more »

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