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Watch: Railway engineer who says Welsh rail map ‘a mess’ offers route for north-south rail link

26 Apr 2022 2 minute read
The new Stadler FLIRT. Picture by Transport for Wales. Right, a Google Map of Wales.

A railway engineer has proposed a route for a north-south Wales rail link on his YouTube show.

Gareth Dennis said that the “Welsh railway network is a mess – in fact, there isn’t really a ‘Welsh’ network at all, it is just a series of branches of the English one”.

However, rather than the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen link campaigned for by Trawslink Cymru, he said that any route would ideally go up the east of Wales as it would link larger main population centres which are home to over 5,000 people – including Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Newtown, Welshpool and Wrexham.

In comparison, a railway up the west of Wales would only link up Carmarthen, Aberystwyth and Bangor, he said.

Gareth Dennis is a lecturer in rail infrastructure at BCRRE and other institutions, and presents a weekly show called RailNatter on YouTube, where he presented his possible rail map of Wales.

“If you’re going to have a north-south connection in Wales, if you’re going to invest in the infrastructure, surely do it where you’re going to connect up the most people and actually connect up the largest kind of centres of population,” he said.

He said that the “obvious major high-density connections” were Swansea-Cardiff-Newport, and then “if you add those 5,000 places you can see where that network really ends up”.

“If you want to see where the north-south connection is, it is not on the coast. It’s from Brecon, up to Builth Wells, and then Newtown, and then up.”

He added that you “might just for the sake of connecting up a population centre, ignoring the boundary – it might be a bit mean to skirt around the Welsh border, but maybe you would – it might make more sense to go and connect Oswestry up. Because Oswestry has no railway station – it’s a huge town with no connections”.

“But we’re not doing this for England, we’re doing it for Wales.”

You can see Gareth Dennis’ entire plan for Wales’ railway network here.


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James
James
5 months ago

I don’t think the answer to our current rail situation is a gigantic new railway line over hundreds of miles costing more than our Government’s entire capital budget. We already have a decent amount of rail line that is massively under capacity because of poor quality trains and not sufficient stations to make them viable compared to cars. I’d much rather we spent the money building stations and expanding capacity on trains (and god forbid, making them actually pleasant places to spent time rather than crowding everyone in like sardines), given the majority of our travel should be within cities… Read more »

Llinos
Llinos
5 months ago
Reply to  James

I understand the lines we already have are not suited to high speed travel and high capacity trains (I just read that. I am not an expert). Basically the lines are more bendy and up and down and can’t take the weight of big heavy trains that the east west trains can. It is just one person’s opinion but I must admit I think linking up the major and even some of the smaller population centres should be key here, rather than focussing on just local commuting. But I am biased. I have recently fallen in love again with Northwest… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago

The rail map of Wales makes it pretty obvious that the lines were built to extract our wealth for the benefit of others. The Conservative party and assorted grovellers will be standing at the local elections. Do not vote for “good old Bill”. All tories and most “independents” including Bill would die in a trench for London but wouldn’t even p** on Wales.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Yes, like many African lines?

AntonJacques
AntonJacques
5 months ago

Using population density is not necessarily a great way to indicate where train lines should go. It can be argued that population centres such as Aberystwyth, Machynlleth and Bangor have low population densities because they are remote and have little infrastructure around them.

If this model was used 200 years ago, the map would look very different as pre-industrial populations were much more spread than they currently are.

Train infrastructure makes it easier for people to live and commute to and from in remote places such as Aberystwyth.

Llinos
Llinos
5 months ago
Reply to  AntonJacques

Absolutely agree. And making it North South would prioritise the opportunities for WELSH based people to live and commute to / from those areas.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago
Reply to  AntonJacques

Los Angeles, and other US areas, developed ALONG the lines, not the other way round.
Independent Cymru should perhaps think using line to DEVELOP Cymru.
Try getting advice from China on terrain Have a look at Jeremy Clarkson’s video:
Google: In Britain We are Doomed.

Llinos
Llinos
5 months ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

Sounds like a good plan to me. Except for the last bit. I have successfully managed to edit anything Jeremy Clarkson says out of my life for over five years. I’m not letting him back in now. His simplistic pontifications are part of the reason Britain is doomed. He, more than anyone, has contributed hugely to the mainstreaming of childish, boorish behaviour in middle aged men.

Last edited 5 months ago by Llinos
I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago
Reply to  Llinos

Agree, but the point is to look at the video itself as to what can be done
as folk are always saying “our terrain is too difficult”.

Bob McIntyre
Bob McIntyre
5 months ago

Pie in the sky! Where’s the money going to come from? Perhaps London would like to forego CrossRail2 and donate the money to Wales?

The answer is not more railway building but make better use of the railway you have such as the Heart of Wales line, woefully underused with an abysmal service; then join the bits with a decent TrawsCymru service using electric buses.

Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob McIntyre

“The money” will, or rather could, come from the Welsh tax take and power generation. It won’t happen of course because unlike Scotland, we’ll put up with just about anything as our population has been drip fed the “too small, too poor” propaganda churned out by the usual crew of Quislings for generations. We don’t even have to fight to be free of this colonialism just vote for God’s sake.

Vyvyan
Vyvyan
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob McIntyre

It’s an investment, not an expense.

An independent Wales could be a currency-issuer.

A government (which is a currency-issuer) can afford to buy whatever is for sale in its own currency.

#IndyWales 

#MMT  

Last edited 5 months ago by Vyvyan
Bob Randle
Bob Randle
5 months ago
Reply to  Vyvyan

A government (which is a currency-issuer) can afford to buy whatever is for sale in its own currency. It can’t. That is like saying. We want to build a 30billion [enter currency] railway line. The central banks says: “We will print you 35. How about that?” It doesn’t work like that. Your dream of an independent Wales would be something like Zimbabwe within a month. Currencies all fall within a global system. If yours isn’t up there against the big ones, then major infrastructure is a difficult one – see Greece selling theirs off. If you are debating independence on… Read more »

Llinos
Llinos
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob Randle

Thank you patronising Bob trolls. We welcome you being the latest Anglo patting us on the head stating that we are – uniquely in the world – unable to manage our own affairs. Your predictions of doom and failure remain as hilarious as every other philosophical remnant of the Victorian empire who likes to try and s*** on us. Here’s the thing you people never answer though. If you hate us so much, why don’t you let us go? Why do you fight so hard to keep hold of an incompetent nation that you loathe? Perhaps because you are lying?… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago
Reply to  Llinos

They are all jealous/terrified of our potential success?

Thomas Picton
Thomas Picton
4 months ago
Reply to  Llinos

Llinos, maybe you should read what Bob wrote. Nothing he wrote is patronising or hateful. He is simply pointing out the fact that printing money is not a solution to the unaffordable ambitions of any country. This has been proven many times (1970s Britain, 2010s Venezuela, 1980s Argentina, 2000s Zimbabwe, 1970s Italy, 1940s Greece, 1920s Germany, 1980s Peru, Leninist Soviet Union, 1980s Vietnam…). It succeeds in nothing more than hyperinflation, devaluation and economic failure. I suspect it is also not up to Bob whether Wales becomes independent, any more than it is up to you. Your accusations of hatred, loathing, lying and patronising behaviour… Read more »

Llinos
Llinos
5 months ago

It is about time our nation was more joined up North to South with transport links. I have no strong views which part of Cymru they link up. I don’t know which route would be most practical. But I have a fondness for the idea of Swansea / Carmarthen / Aberystwyth / Caernafon or Bangor would be my preference, with spurs into Llyn and Ynys Mon if the topography permits. On the basis that if you provide good links, people will come. Prioritising travel for journeys starting and ending in Cymru, linking up our communites. By which I mean making… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Llinos
hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Llinos

 “……providing decent transport for us.” That should be the overriding aim otherwise we go off on obscure tangents that won’t serve our needs. Some enhancement of rail makes sense, and so would networks of road coaches and shuttle buses to make the network really user friendly. That might mean better roads in places to ensure safer journeys.

AhP
AhP
5 months ago

If the aim is simply to build a railway – any railway – within Wales connecting the north to the south, with as much as possible of the population living near it, then yes the “eastern corridor” makes sense. However, there is already a relatively straight and fast railway from south east Wales to north east: the fact it’s mainly in England is neither here nor there; it connects Wrexham to Cardiff (the biggest towns in the north and south) far better than an eastern corridor route would do. The western corridor isn’t about making the best possible connection from… Read more »

Holly
Holly
5 months ago
Reply to  AhP

Completely agree. The west coast is currently the worst served and as it is the furthest from existing lines is where the need is greatest.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago
Reply to  AhP

The marches line isn’t fast though. Its a 90mph railway and a lot of it is much slower.  I know people want the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth reopened but that would just be one isolated quite slow line not serving many people. Swansea to Carmarthen is currently 50 minutes, with the reopened Carmarthen to Aberystwyth suggested to take 90 minutes. So 2 hours 20 total. Imagine a 160mph line from the south to Newtown where you would change onto an upgraded Cambrian line as suggested in this video. You could probably make Swansea to Aberystwyth in 3 hours, a vast improvement… Read more »

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

There is of course a large station in Oswestry once the centre for our past national rail network… Cambrian…founded by the Davies family of Llanddinam.

The line runs from Gobowen through via Oswestry to Pant station and trains 🚂 run on it. .. with most of the track bed only from pant to Welshpool intact.

Nigel
Nigel
5 months ago

The heart of wales line is the best way forward minimum 2 hourly service end the single carriage junk train they now use needs to be min of 2 or 3 units,,, i love the line but service times are useless and those 150 units put me right off on times they cant cope with the people on them, and they need a trolly service long way with out food and drink, under used because the units are junk and gaps in trains are a joke,if you miss your train you need a sleeping bag

BobSnail
BobSnail
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel

There’s a 2 hourly service (on a good day) on the Cambrian Coast Line as well. The line does join reasonable sized towns and would do much better with a frequent service and replacement of the line South of Caernarfon.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
5 months ago

It takes a Youtuber to suggest a way forward how to connect both North to the South Wales where others have failed or been indifferent. And he’s right also to mention that a Welsh rail system doesn’t really exist as it’s effectively a branch of England’s rail system. Our rail network, if you call it that, was never built with our interest at heart. We all knew this anyway. Just take a trip on the train from the North to the South, vice versa , to open your eyes to the truth. But what frustrates me the most are Welsh… Read more »

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

I like the idea. When I saw the video I thought he’d propose reusing previous closed lines but the idea of building a brand new 160mph spine on mostly new alignment is great.  Let’s not pretend that the marches lines between Newport and Crewe is a high speed intercity line, it’s a slow twisty line with a max speed of 90mph and speeds often much slower.  A new 160mph line along with an upgraded north Wales mainline would dramatically reduce journey times between the north and south of Wales and also between the south and the northwest of England. With… Read more »

marcu
marcu
5 months ago

ass bitch

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