News

Two mile-long Victorian tunnel controlled by Highways England to be transferred back to Wales

05 Nov 2021 2 minutes Read
The Rhondda Tunnel. Picture by the Rhondda Tunnel Society.

A two-mile-long victorian tunnel in the Rhondda which is currently under the control of Highways England will be transferred to Welsh ownership, the Secretary of State for Transport has said.

Campaigners are hoping to connect communities in the Rhondda and Afan valleys by reopening the 3,443 yard tunnel built in the 1880s as a route for walkers and cyclists.

If it secures enough money to be developed, it will be the longest cycling tunnel in Europe and the second-longest in the world.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said that the “mines rescue service is ready to dangle the Secretary of State down a hole” so that he could have a look at the project.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said that he had “done a bit of research” and it transpires that England’s highway body “owns the tunnel at the moment”.

“I would be happy to transfer it to a local group, the Welsh Government or the local council, with money for the purpose,” he said.

“The hon. Gentleman is welcome to take that up, and I look forward to taking up his offer of a harness at some time in the future when I can see it fully open.”

The Rhondda Tunnel Society was established in 2014 and has more than 850 members, with Welsh actor Michael Sheen among those backing the project.

Chris Bryant said he hoped to see Grant Shapps there soon “because, frankly, the harness is ready”.

“If we are able to reopen it as a cycle path, as many people hope, it would be the longest cycle path in Europe,” he said.

“It would be a major local attraction, which would be good for tourism and jobs in an area of outstanding beauty that unfortunately has terrible financial deprivation. The Secretary of State is welcome.”

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Richard
Richard
22 days ago

Da Iawn Grant a da iawn ir Trigolion lleol……Not a tunnel too far for Y Senedd to support I hope 🤞

Dafydd
Dafydd
22 days ago

How th hell does Highways England own a tunnel in Wales?

Pob lwc
Pob lwc
22 days ago
Reply to  Dafydd

If it was built in the Victorian era, perhaps the original owners were an older arm of the UK Government, or it transferred to them at some point. It’s probably a legacy asset that eventually ended up with Highways England when it was created. Sounds like no-one realised who actually owned it until recently.

RW1964
RW1964
20 days ago
Reply to  Pob lwc

All the disused infrastructure from the road & railways was transferred to highways England before devolution. Another example is the old viaduct pillar at Taff’s Well.

Avril
Avril
22 days ago
Reply to  Dafydd

We were not always a devolved nation, so ‘ England’ owned everything under the UK government umbrella. It would be great to have it back to develop into something constructive. Well done Rhondda Tunnel Society for fighting so hard to get something positive back in Welsh hands.

Robin Gell
Robin Gell
21 days ago
Reply to  Dafydd

Because it is a railway tunnel. All disused railway structures like bridges and tunnels were owned by the British Railways Board. This was only fairly recently wound up and all the assets transferred to Highways England for maintenance and monitoring etc.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
22 days ago

Great news…can we have our Llanbedr by-pass too…

Sion Roberts
Sion Roberts
21 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

We need to reduce the volume of traffic before destroying even more of our environment with vast swathes of concrete and tarmac.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
21 days ago
Reply to  Sion Roberts

You’re not from Llanbedr then…

Last edited 21 days ago by Mab Meirion
B Schmit
B Schmit
21 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Clearly not but he continues the current head in the sand policy…unencumbered…

CJPh
CJPh
22 days ago

Well this looks cool as hell. I hope they retain the aesthetic as much as possible.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
22 days ago

Should be called the Afan Tunnel, I reckon.
If it doen’t get off the ground, perhaps we could lock Bryant in it?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
21 days ago

Anything this Tory government willing gives back to Wales usually has a hidden agenda. No doubt it’s in disrepair and will need tens of millions if not more to stabilise.and make safe. Don’t see them handing over control of our water & dams currently described as a “shared” resource. Yes, where we’ve got the water they’ve got the power to take it. The Conservatives have already washed their hands with all the highly dangerous coal slurry tips in Wales, so another possibly high risk Victorian tunnel that transported our once abundant coal resource out to the benefit of England only… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by Y Cymro
Dubdee
Dubdee
21 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I come from the coal rich north of England. It wasn’t just Wales that suffered when the coal industry collapsed. I agree, seems a rough deal to take all the coal and then leave us with the problem of dealing with s**g heaps.

Maggie
Maggie
20 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

That’s quite a lot of sour grapes there !

Alexander Storch
Alexander Storch
20 days ago
Reply to  Maggie

Rather than laying that lame insult at the poster’s feet why don’t you offer a counter argument? Although I’m not sure how you can deny the main point which of course is that shouldn’t countries, governments or companies who have made billions , quite clearly at someone elses expense be held accountable for ensuring the safety of the people whose landscape and locality was plundered and left unsafe? There’s good reason why the UK government don’t want to set a precedent by doing this as the reparations due from England (not Britain) to the rest of the World/commonwealth is beyond… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
17 days ago
Reply to  Maggie

They roll down from Aberfan.

roger smith
roger smith
19 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Good God you asked for it back,you got it back and still you’re moaning.

j humphrys
j humphrys
17 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Follow the money.

Jason forde
Jason forde
21 days ago

Chris Bryant talking the talk, time now for this welsh government to front up the cash to finally get this done, they can waste 140 million on surveys for a cancelled M4 relief road then they can afford a couple of million for this potential tourist magnet

Bob
Bob
21 days ago

I live nearby and every time there’s a news article about this, people come searching for the tunnel entrance. The level of interest and value of reopening the tunnel should not be underestimated.

Michael michaelson
Michael michaelson
20 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Hear hear
Our rich carbon resource.
Who must think they’re in hell
But you can tell by that burnt at the steak smell smell
That sweet green grass from
A place I call home
Never mind gorge and draconian….. I’ve got
Love for ya all

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
21 days ago

I’m a little late with my reading and contribution to this article, but hopefully not too late The tunnel was built for the Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway Company, the engineer was Sidney William Yockney, a pupil of Brunel. Tunnels require separate shafts along its length during construction so that there are many different headings, this was not possible here because of the high of the mountain – so he had just two headings, one at each end on either side of the mountain. And when they eventually met in the heart of the mountain, they differed by half an… Read more »

James
James
20 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

There’s a railway swing bridge in Rhyl too, so that can’t be the only one 😛

j humphrys
j humphrys
17 days ago
Reply to  James

Is it a swing? But there is a new pedestrian/cycle one.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
21 days ago

Correction!
The last sentence should have read the only railway swing bridge in the world built on a curve.
Apologies!

Michael michaelson
Michael michaelson
20 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Let’s not split heirs haha they always been here before rights were claimed to be theirs…
The jiggers pokery is up
My blood is quarter welsh
The rest might be mixed up
Like a mug blood
Just open them all up

Michael michaelson
Michael michaelson
20 days ago

Finish this sentence.
Hay ye aye who owes who
Cheese slice singular craft
Ex pos say cast your mind way back
Rat a tat tat none in vain
Gone begone drakvlad
Aye can hear the trumpets playing in the s-hills

j humphrys
j humphrys
17 days ago

Okay………”please mike, will ye no take yer pills”.

Craig Chandler
Craig Chandler
20 days ago

Hard to believe now, but there was once a Treherbert to Bridgend rail passenger service that used this tunnel. If the government are serious about reducing car travel and reconnecting communities then a rail reopening such as this should be on the agenda. As people have already mentioned the staggering amount of money thrown into road projects even feasibility studies is astronomical but it continues unabated.

Alexander Storch
Alexander Storch
20 days ago

While the headline is very enticing it’s hard to get excited having done a little research.
Surely it will cost millions to repair a structure such as this?
The thought of a cycle track running through the tunnel is certainly appealing but if it was closed over forty years ago due to safety reasons when H&S was a little more relaxed it’s worrying.
I hope I’m wrong on all counts.

H Shaw
20 days ago

Isn’t this the tunnel that the 10.32 pm train from Treherbert to Briton Ferry entered late on a misty night on 31 october 1912, carrying 2 crew and 8 passengers, and never came out the other end. The signal records proved it entered, and it never left. The railway company quickly made up a story about some derailment and train fire, and compensated well the 10 families, and the whole incident was soon forgotten. However rail maintenance cfrews for years afterwards would feel a rush of cold air and the noise of a train coming inside that tunnel, where there… Read more »

Phil
Phil
19 days ago
Reply to  H Shaw

The time stamp above your comment states it was posted on November 7th….. are you sure you didn’t write it on Halloween?

mike
mike
20 days ago

ha ha ha 20 Mph cycle lanes bus lane woke lane pothole every yard

Dan Hannan
Dan Hannan
19 days ago

Perhaps they could apply to the EU for money to convert and open it…

Oh, right.

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