Plans to supply Aber by train

CEREDIGION County Council has garnered cross-party agreement in new proposals to use the Cambrian train line to bring freight into Aberystwyth and mid-Wales.
The plans are being drawn up under initiatives to increase the profile of Aberystwyth as the central hub of Ceredigion under Welsh government guidelines. Up until now, goods have mostly been brought into Aberystwyth by road, causing heavy traffic along the A44 and A487.
Aberystwyth Train Station - Photo Tomos Nolan

Aberystwyth Train Station – Photo Tomos Nolan

One of the backers of the proposal, Councillor Alun Williams, said that: “Ceredigion requires a fully integrated [public and freight] transport infrastructure… in order for the County to thrive economically”. Cllr Williams also proposed the re-introduction of Bow Street station to “assist access to [University department] IBERS and local villages”. Councillor Mark Strong also suggested “Park and ride facilities” from Bow Street to Aberystwyth, which could help to reduce traffic in the summer.

Cllr Strong added that: “if we can persuade Network Rail and Governments in both Westminster and Cardiff that this is a worthwhile ambition,  there’s no reason why we can’t make increased use of rail freight a reality”.
The proposers of these plans are hoping that the new development will qualify for European funding. Jill Evans, MEP for Wales, has been part of the campaign for funding, which would come from the European Commission. The Courier has learned that the Cambrian line development is listed by the EU as part of a “comprehensive network”, which could be entitled to part of a €250m pot of EU investment.
If funding goes ahead, councillors will look to develop the existing EMO oil station that is located by the line, behind the Rheidol Retail Park in the town, for freight use. The site was listed by Network Rail as a strategic “supplementary” site as part of their reports which estimate that the use of rail freight will increase by 30% nationally in the next decade.
The hope of councillors is that Tesco will agree to supply their new Aberystwyth stores by rail freight, along with their existing Newtown and Welshpool stores. Other stores in Aberystwyth may also be likely to take advantage of a new rail freight system.
One of the biggest differences residents would notice would be the reduced traffic on Aberystwyth’s roads. Cllr Strong commented:
“It would be such a boon to get supermarket lorries, oil tankers and timber transporters off our roads. It would make the A44 and other key roads safer for everyone”.