So what’s Traws Link Cymru about then?
We’re campaigning to reinstate rail links in west and north west Wales with the aim of connecting the whole of the country to strengthen the economy and breathe new life into parts of Wales that have been left isolated and neglected since the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
Where are these new lines?
In 1964 and 1965, the Beeching Axe saw the closure of the railways between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen in mid and west Wales and the line from Bangor to Afon Wen near Porthmadog in north Wales, along with many more lines across Wales and the UK. At the moment we are focusing on the reopening of the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen line with new stations at Pencader/Llandysul, Llanybydder, Lampeter, Tregaron, and Llanilar.
It’s over 50 years since the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line closed to passengers. Flooding at Llanilar in 1964 severed the line and was deemed too expensive to repair. However, a freight service continued from Carmarthen to Pont Llanio and Newcastle Emlyn until 1973. But since then, the populations of these areas has increased, with three university campuses on the old line. West Wales is also one of the poorest regions in western Europe with appalling public transport and high incidence of road traffic accidents and fatalities. We believe that Wales as a whole needs a complete rail network to ensure that investment can flow westwards from the cities of the south east and that people can enjoy the fundamental right of high quality public transport that people elsewhere in the UK currently enjoy.
What is the current state of the Aberystwyth – Carmarthen line?
The tracks were lifted between 1975 and 1977, but it has been confirmed that over 97% of the trackbed is still intact. However, obstructions to reopening have not been deemed insurmountable by Network Rail or by the independent scoping study commissioned by Welsh Government.
When did your campaign start and how much support do you have?
Our campaign began in Lampeter in October 2013. To date, we have the support of over 30AMs, 3 MPs and 47 town and community councils as well as the support of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion county councils and Friends of the Earth. The campaign has had cross-party support from Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Conservatives, Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Green Party of England and Wales. We have also collected over 12,000 signatures on our petitions and have held highly successful public meetings in locations along the old line such as Lampeter, Tregaron, Llanybydder, Llanilar, Llandysul, Aberystwyth and Carmarthen. The campaign has also received widespread media attention on BBC Wales, S4C, Radio Cymru, Radio Wales and national and local newspapers and community newsletters.
Sounds impressive, but how realistic are your proposals and how much will it cost?
Very realistic! In Scotland, where rail infrastructure is devolved, September 2015 saw the reopening of the Borders railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank after a 46 year wait. It is a similarly rural area and the popularity of the line has exceeded all expectations. Another major reopening took place in the west of the Republic of Ireland and many more reopenings are planned in England and Northern Ireland. The scoping study has suggested a price tag of between £505m and £750m. This may sound a lot but when compared to the £800m spent on widening the A465, £750m on the Edinburgh Trams, £50-80bn spent on HS2 and £1bn on the widening of the M4, these sums are not unrealistic when considering the enormous economic, social, environmental and linguistic benefits reopening the line will bring.
You keep mentioning this scoping study. Where can I read it?
The scoping study can be found here: Aber-Carmarthen Scoping study
This sounds like a great idea. How can I support?
First of all, you can sign our petition by clicking on the petition link on the main menu bar at the top of the page. There is an online and an electronic version. Second, you can donate, as TLC is set up as a charity. Just click on the donate button on the webpage to give what you can. We are entirely run by volunteers and count on donations to hold our public meetings and for our promotional literature. You can also volunteer with us or become a core member. Just click on the contact button above.