Reopening the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen railway would cost significantly less than thought, a report by campaign group Traws Link Cymru has claimed.
They claim that the cost of reopening the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway could be reduced to around £620 million, 20% less than the Wesh Government’s £775m price tag.
The report, entitled A Strategic Rail Corridor for west Wales comes two years after the Welsh Government published their own feasibility study.
It found that 97 per cent of the original trackbed was clear and that reopening was a realistic prospect.
But Traws Link Cymru Chairman Adrian Kendon said that further analysis of the study highlighted oversights by Mott Macdonald, who produced the original report.
“There are important omissions in the report, which, for example, failed to consider the condition of the three tunnels on the former route and which also underestimated catchment area populations,” he said.
“Our further work on the study reveals that once the enlarged catchment area around the proposed stations is taken to account, the cost-benefit ratio improves, and with modern construction methods, the cost of reopening the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway could be reduced to around £620 million, a figure 20% less than suggested in the Mott Macdonald.”
The report also reiterates the social, economic, and cultural case for reopening the railway, he said.
“We will now disseminate our report to Senedd and Westminster politicians,” Adrian Kendon said. “The bilingual report will also be made available to download from our new website, which we hope to launch later this autumn.”
The proposed route would begin in Carmarthen and pass through Pencader, Llanybydder, Lampeter, Tregaron, and Llanilar before arriving at Aberystwyth.
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 feasibility study carried out by the Welsh Government did, however, identify some key challenges to reopening 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 noted that the economic benefit of reopening the route is likely to be low, due to low local population levels along the route.