This Sunday, July 30th, the much-anticipated National Eisteddfod of Wales will open in the town of Tregaron in Ceredigion, two years later than originally envisaged due to the Covid pandemic. Traws Link Cymru, the West Wales Rail Campaign group, would like to take this opportunity to convey our very best wishes to the Eisteddfod organising committee and everyone participating and competing in the nation’s premier cultural event. However, in terms of local transport infrastructure there are significant issues that need to be addressed, most notably about the adequacy of the local road transport infrastructure in central Ceredigion and its ability to cope with an event that will bring tens of thousands of visitors into the town of Tregaron and surrounding area.
There is no trunk road access whatsoever to the town, and a shuttle bus service is having to be provided by a North Wales-based company who were responsible for a similar operation at the 2019 National Eisteddfod held in Llanrwst. It is somewhat ironic that the Eisteddfod Maes is situated near the trackbed of the former Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway. The line was closed to passenger services in February 1965, and since 2013 Traws Link Cymru has been actively campaigning for its reinstatement. It is a tragedy that rail passenger provision is not available as this would have been crucial for transporting people to the Tregaron Eisteddfod.
We are encouraged by the Welsh Government’s newly published National Transport Delivery Plan, which includes a commitment to develop the case for a South Wales to Aberystwyth railway by 2025-2027. Indeed, the Tregaron National Eisteddfod highlights beyond any reasonable doubt the urgent need for a restoration of this strategic north-south rail corridor. The reinstatement of the railway line would be a major stimulus to the economic development of the West Wales region. In particular, it would provide new forms of employment and hence encourage the retention in the area of young people, thereby strengthening our rich Welsh language and culture that is so strongly reflected in the National Eisteddfod.
Prof. Mike Walker; Chair, Traws Link Cymru