Wales

Anglesey Beeching axe railway bids for funding to reopen

Amlwch Station Image copyright Alan Murray-Rust/Geograph
Image caption Passenger services to Amlwch Station stopped in 1964 after the Beeching cuts

A project to reconnect Wales' most northerly town to the railway after 55 years is being considered for funding.

A bid has been made for money to carry out a study to reopen the Anglesey Central Railway between Amlwch and the north Wales main line at Gaerwen.

The UK government is offering funding to restore lines closed after the 1963 Beeching Report, which proposed cutting about a third of the railway network.

The plan is for regular diesel services for locals and occasional steam trains.

Walter Glyn Davies, chairman of the railway, said the island was dependent on tourism, and would be "doomed" without it.

"All the heritage railways across the border attract goodness only know how many visitors and supporters and it would put us on a global map. So you've got a combination of a local service and tourism."

Restoring services on the 18-mile route is one of two Welsh projects through to the second ideas round of the Restoring Your Railways fund.

Image copyright Anglesey Central Railway Ltd
Image caption Trains continued to run on the line until 1993
Image caption People protested against the line's closure following the Beeching axe
Image caption Walter Glyn Davies was on the Anglesey Central Railway's last passenger service in December 1964

The other is the bid for a "walkway" railway station on the south Wales main line at Magor in Monmouthshire - and the UK government has said they will be "considered by an expert panel" and announced "by the end of the summer 2020".

The last passenger train on the old Anglesey Central Railway ran in 1964 before the Beeching cuts shut the passenger service on the line, which dates from 1864.

Industrial freight services continued using the line until 1993 but the tracks remain and have been restored by volunteers.

Now local groups want to restore the passenger service from the Chester to Holyhead main line.

It would link Amlwch, a port and popular tourist destination, and Anglesey's county town Llangefni to the network again.

They have received backing from Welsh Government which wants to undertake a £100,000 feasibility study to build a case for reintroducing the service.

Image caption Local volunteer groups have helped maintain the 18-mile line since its closure

Mr Davies was one of the last passengers on the line in 1964 and now hopes that he will live to see people travel on it again.

"The Senedd have supported us but now they are keen to dip into [funding] and get a percentage of it," he said.

"It would have to have a community element to it.

The Welsh Government has bid for £50,000 from the UK government to undertake the feasibility study - and it has vowed to "match fund" any cash from Westminster.

Image copyright Kevin Williams/Geograph
Image caption The Anglesey Central Railway had stations at Llangwyllog, Rhosgoch and Llanerchymedd (pictured)

The study will look at how the track would connect to the main line, the condition of the track and line infrastructure, new stations at Amlwch and Llangefni and how many services could operate on the line.

If successful, the project would also include a cycle and walking track that would run parallel to the line.

The Welsh Government said "expanding Wales' rail network remains a priority" and the plan showed it was "ambitious about the benefits rail enhancement can bring to the area, alongside cycle routes and heritage opportunities".

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