- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Supporters of the plan to reconnect by rail Carmarthen and Aberystwyth have updated Assembly Member Joyce Watson on the campaign’s progress.
Adrian Kendon and Dylan Lewis, representing west Wales rail campaign group, Traws Link Cymru, last week (25 Jan) met the Labour Mid and West AM at her regional office in Carmarthen. They were joined by Flora McNerney, Student Union president at University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Lampeter campus.
Traws Link Cymru are leading the campaign to reopen the line, which was closed as part of the notorious Beeching cuts.
A study commissioned by the Welsh Government and published last year concluded that the full cost of the scheme could be between £500 and £750m.
Mrs Watson, who backs the line’s reopening, said:
“Re-connecting by rail Carmarthen and Aberystwyth, and onto north Wales, is a grand vision. It would transform public transport in Wales – not only the trains but connecting bus services too.
“It would be a big project, of course, but 97% of the trackbed is intact and Network Rail sees no overwhelming obstacles, so it is feasible.”
A public petition to reopen the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen rail link has so far gathered more than 12,000 signatures. The Welsh Government provided £30,000 to conduct a scoping study, looking at the possibility of reopening the line.
On the agenda too was the operational future of the country’s railway services. It is expected that responsibility for awarding the next Wales and Boarders franchise, which will start in 2018, will be transferred the Welsh Government. Arriva Trains Wales has run services since 2003.
Transport Minister Edwina Hart last month launched a public consultation to inform the new contract. Joyce Watson continued:
“This is a once in a generation chance to redesign train travel in Wales. I hope as many people as possible will have their say about things like services, carriage numbers and capacity, scheduling, fares and ticketing.”
The consultation is open until Friday, 18 March 2016.