Renaissance of Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line

ASSEMBLY members have commenced a new debate regarding the  reopening of the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen train line.

After 41 years of the Beechings closures, which affected the South’s connection to Aberystwyth, Assembly Ministers have joined to consider the re-opening of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen train line. The line was last used by passengers in 1965, but continued for freight use (mainly milk transportation) from the North to the South until 1975.

Aber to carmThe proposed plan by Assembly Members is to reopen the majority of the old line, but also adding new sections where the train would stop, before arriving at its destination in Carmarthen. Plaid AM Simon Thomas told ministers that this project could cost the Welsh economy as much as £650 million.

Although the predicted costs are high, Ministers are filtering in that there is a current demand for the line to be reopened and a lucrative market for the network provider.

During the debate in Welsh National Assembly, Plaid Cymru’s representative Simon Thomas stated that approximately 55,000 people live along the route, which is 5,000 less people who live on the Aberystwyth-Shrewsbury line, and that this figure is increasing in terms of usage on a daily basis.

In addition, the reopening would be vital for commuters to Carmarthen and Aberystwyth that are growing economic and work centres of Wales, as well as for tourism proposes, and serve as a possible addition to freight which will relieve the traffic on the A and B roads that currently connect Aberystwyth and Carmarthen together.

However, already ministers are faced with construction issues. Assembly Member and Transport Minister Edwina Hart told the Senedd that “a significant portion of the track bed has been built on”. Hart explained: “For example the line into Lampeter is now home to a supermarket and a car park.” The whole line would therefore need reconstructing to ensure the safety of the network, however Plaid Minister Simon Thomas stated that with new engineering techniques, building the line “would not create an engineering problem’’ which is what the Victorians were faced with when they initially constructed the line.

During a meeting held on 20th March 2014 by Traws Link Cymru at Lampeter, a spokesperson confirmed that a feasibility study has to be carried out  for the line to reopen.  Liberal Democrat Mid and West Wales AM William Powell stated that European Funds are available and the new link would be “extremely valuable in the context of wider transport links to Swansea, Cardiff and beyond”.

The current duration of the journey from Aberystwyth to Carmarthen is approximately two hours by bus, roughly an hour by car. The proposed re-opening of the train line would mean the current journey would take approximately an hour and half according to AM Simon Thomas of Plaid Cymru.

These developments are not only promising for local business who depend on tourism, but it will also reconnect communities along the line from Aberystwyth to Carmarthen with South Wales, North and Mid Wales.