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Petition calling for reopening of two Welsh railway lines gains more than 6,000 signatures in days

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

Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter

A petition calling for the reopening of Welsh railway lines, including the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth line, has gained more than 6,000 signatures in just a few days.

The Senedd Cymru petition calls for the reopening of the Bangor to Afon Wen and Aberystwyth to Carmarthen lines, integrating them with the Cambrian railway, and the line from Carmarthen on to Cardiff.

Members of Ceredigion County Council, meeting today, April 20, heard the highest number of signatures on the petition were from the county.

The petition comes soon after a Ceredigion council committee – meeting earlier this month – heard the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen line, a victim of the 1960s Beeching cuts, was unlikely to reopen for 30 or 40 years.

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 in February 1965; predicted costs for its re-opening are as high as £800 million, with quotes of £1bn even bandied.

Research

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, which 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 earlier this month.

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”.

That long-term position on the railway link was again emphasised at today’s full meeting of Ceredigion County Council, with several members raising the issue during a wider debate on public transport.

Bus services

Councillors raised the need for supporting bus services in the short-term, with the hoped-for line replacement a longer-term prospect; Councillor Alun Williams highlighting Ceredigion’s contribution to the petition.

A rail journey from neighbouring Pembrokeshire to Aberystwyth faces a journey of hundreds of miles through England, rather than a trip of 70 miles or less by road.

Currently anyone wanting to travel solely by rail county-county faces an arduous journey through south Wales, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Powys.

While Pembroke Dock in the south of the county and the university town of Aberystwyth are just over 70 miles apart, the rail journey is estimated at more than 300.


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BobSnail
BobSnail
10 months ago

Very little mention of the Bangor to Afon Wen line. Is that not considered important?

Last edited 10 months ago by BobSnail
hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago
Reply to  BobSnail

There are a few old lines that could be revived or new connections created using more modern engineering techniques. Our governments forget that the original rail network was built pre 1900. With the technologies available today we could recreate a network and overcome what are in reality relatively minor topographical obstacles. The major obstacles are those voids between the ears of ministers and their servants. Taking the Bangor link to Afon Wen, Aber to Carmarthen and say Builth to the old junction by Caersws, there would be routes from Swansea/Llanelli, and Carmarthen up to North Wales. However the old fascist… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Them cheeky experts trying to force less than a mile of iron road into Bala, the nerve of them, they even had the reporter laughing up his sleeve at them…

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Wasn’t the Llyn Tegid railway based on the link that ran in the “good old days” from Dolgellau via Bala out to somewhere like Wrexham/Rhiwabon? Probably went beyond Dolgellau to join the Cambrian Coast Line too. Now all that could be recommissioned as light rail using green electricity generated locally off hydro, solar, wind and the occasional gust of hot air from passing politicians.

Alun
Alun
10 months ago
Reply to  BobSnail

Of course – it’s all important. And both the article and the petition mention Bangor – Afon Wen.

BobSnail
BobSnail
10 months ago
Reply to  Alun

In the article, Bangor to Afon Wen is only mentioned in the 2nd paragraph and then ignored.

Trees
Trees
10 months ago
Reply to  BobSnail

https://petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/245416

2nd highest proportion of people signing the petition are in Gwynedd (click on the map option on the petition page)

Ieaun-iesu ap stuf
Ieaun-iesu ap stuf
10 months ago

Westminster seeks to rob us of £5 billion for HS2 and a further £1 billion for “England and Wales” rail projects where not one inch of track is being built in Cymru… yet, we’ve got rail infrastructure projects that we actually need and that would literally benefit us in greater connecting Cymru but: Westminster says no…

Teulu / Family – This is why we need independence.

Martin Rowlands
Martin Rowlands
10 months ago

Totally agree with you the only reason Westminster wants hss2 is the stops are near to international airports because of air space around London.
It is going to be very little benefit to the rest of the country. And I would have used this money on other ways to open up disused track beds around the UK.
I hope that this comment support your veiw

CWL
CWL
10 months ago

I suspect the barrier here is that most of the railway network in Wales isn’t devolved so any attempt to reinstate these lines involves cutting a huge cheque to Network Rail instead of being able to incrementally restore the lines one station at a time in partnership with local councils and as budgets allowed.

Martin Rowlands
Martin Rowlands
10 months ago

All in favour of opening train lines.
But getting the bus and train operators working together so I can travel from one place to another with minimal hassle and affordable for families rather than going by car. That is the real issue here.
Living in Staffordshire I can walk to the bus station on to the train station and get off at the beach for the day around Llandudno junction station as there is 3 options. But it is cheaper by car than one person on the train. Sad really but reality

CWL
CWL
10 months ago

Using the TfW app and a railcard I can find a return from Stoke to Llandudno on Thursday for £16.30. There are deals to be found if you’re lucky enough to be flexible.

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