Mid Wales

Study wanted on reopening Aberystwyth to Carmarthen rail link

The area near Aberystwyth railway station Image copyright BBC news online
Image caption Plaid AM Simon Thomas said building a rail line from Aberystwyth to Carmarthen could cost £650m

A campaign group aiming to reopen a rail link between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen is to press for a feasibility study to be carried out.

It follows a debate on the proposal in the Welsh assembly which received cross-party support.

Traws Link Cymru said reopening the line, last used by passengers in 1965 and freight in 1973, would strengthen the economy of mid Wales.

But the transport minister has said part of the track has been built on.

At a debate in the Senedd this month Mid Wales assembly members supported the group's idea to run the line from Carmarthen via Alltwalis, Llandysul or Pencader, Llanybydder, Lampeter, Tregaron, Llanilar, Llanfarian and Aberystwyth.

Leading the debate, Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas, said: "A new line is being built for the Borders region in Scotland which is 31 miles long and will cost something like £11m per mile.

Representations

"That would mean the cost of constructing a similar line from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth would be £650m at most.

"That is a significant amount of money but different engineering proposals could bring the cost down."

Mr Thomas added that more people live along the proposed Aberystwyth-Carmarthen line (55,000) than live along the Aberystwyth-Shrewsbury rail link (50,000).

But Transport Minister Edwina Hart told the Senedd "a significant portion of the track bed has been built on".

She added: "For example the line into Lampeter is now home to a supermarket and a car park."

The minister said she would discuss with officials whether any more representations could be made about the plan.

'Glaring gap'

Following a Traws Link Cymru meeting at Lampeter on Thursday, a spokesman said the group would campaign for the Welsh government to conduct a feasibility study into reopening the line.

He added: "We need to brief assembly members about the fine detail of the proposed route to ensure the minister is better briefed about it."

Liberal Democrat Mid and West Wales AM William Powell said a new rail link would be "extremely valuable in the context of wider transport links to Swansea, Cardiff and beyond".

European funds were potentially available if a full feasibility study was completed, Mr Powell added.

"This could embrace not only EU structural funds, but also the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB).

"I know from a recent EIB briefing that I attended that they are keen to support innovative transport infrastructure proposals."

Labour Mid and West Wales AM Joyce Watson said: "I certainly support the idea. It is the glaring gap in Wales's rail network.

"However, there are obvious money issues, not least the fact that funding for rail infrastructure sits with the UK government."

Russell George, Conservative AM for Montgomeryshire. said he also supported the proposal, adding "In rural Wales, it's important that communities are connected."

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