Traws Link Cymru

Thanks to a comment left by Old Miwl on this post, I've just found out about a new website dedicated to re-opening rail links in west Wales so as to provide a new north-south route.

This is what they say about themselves:

Traws Link Cymru is a campaign to re-instate rail links in west Wales. We’re calling for rail links between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth and between Afon Wen on the Cambrian Coast line and Bangor to create a rail corridor along the west coast of Wales. We believe that closure of these routes was a mistake which should be put right. We need a rail link to boost the economy, protect the environment and connect the nation.

Traws Link Cymru

There have been a number of different groups campaining for this, and I don't know whether this is a brand new one or a re-incarnation or amalgamation of old groups, but contact them at post@trawslinkcymru.org.uk to find out more.

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Meanwhile, I thought it might be a good idea to remind people of a video I put together some five years ago showing my suggestion for how a north-south rail link could be reinstated ... although my northern section isn't the same as the route proposed by Traws Link Cymru.

     

The video is just under 20 minutes long. If you click the bottom right hand button you can see it in full screen, but I've had to downgrade the quality slightly so that it still streams. Use the time slider to focus on any part of the route:

     Carmarthen ... 3:40
     Llanbedr Pont Steffan ... 6:30
     Aberystwyth ... 9:40
     Harlech ... 14:20
     Blaenau Ffestiniog ... 16:00

The new sections are from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth, and from the Cambrian line near Llandecwyn to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The first is mainly along the line of the old railway, but with some improvements (the old route is shown paler) and the second was mentioned in more detail here.

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29 comments:

Owen said...

It's good there appears to be the start of organised campaign for this at long last, though - as I've written previously on Oggy Bloggy Ogwr - I suspect the alignment along the old Carmarthen-Aberystwyth route won't be suitable for modern trains, and it would also be difficult to get the line into Aberystwyth from the south. So, I would still advocate using the old route between Builth Wells and Caersws via Rhayader and Llanidloes.

There would be similar problems at the Bangor end too. A line would have to - quite literally - go through Caernarfon. Though a Bangor-Caernarfon branch should be doable, likewise a Carmarthen-Lampeter branch.

Draig said...

Glad also to see a more systematic and organised campaign for this, For those who say it's pie in the sky I would point to proposals to borrow a billion pounds to widen the M4 around Newport, destroying precious habitats in the process. And yes, there will be environmental consequences to a project on this scale, it won't be simple, but it's always possible to put in place suitable mitigation measures.

A proposal like this goes to the heart of the entire transport policy as currently undertaken by the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay. Much of the funding is oriented towards Labour-voting areas in the south-east of Wales (many of which didn't even vote for devolution) and exposes the naked tribalism at the heart of Labour's transport policy. They are not governing for Wales, they are governing for parts of Wales.Their wilful neglect of areas such as Mid-Wales in particular have brought the existing public transport system to the brink of collapse, with the withdrawal of key routes by big private operators such as Arriva. The system is now hobbling along from crisis to crisis, and Aberystwyth might as well be an island in the Irish sea, for all the difficulty getting to the town by any means other than the car.

Draig said...

Glad also to see a more systematic and organised campaign for this, For those who say it's pie in the sky I would point to proposals to borrow a billion pounds to widen the M4 around Newport, destroying precious habitats in the process. And yes, there will be environmental consequences to a project on this scale, it won't be simple, but it's always possible to put in place suitable mitigation measures.

A proposal like this goes to the heart of the entire transport policy as currently undertaken by the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay. Much of the funding is oriented towards Labour-voting areas in the south-east of Wales (many of which didn't even vote for devolution) and exposes the naked tribalism at the heart of Labour's transport policy. They are not governing for Wales, they are governing for parts of Wales.Their wilful neglect of areas such as Mid-Wales in particular have brought the existing public transport system to the brink of collapse, with the withdrawal of key routes by big private operators such as Arriva. The system is now hobbling along from crisis to crisis, and Aberystwyth might as well be an island in the Irish sea, for all the difficulty getting to the town by any means other than the car.

MH said...

It's been a few years since I looked at rail routes in detail, but Owen is right to say that the southern approach to Aberystwyth is the major problem in reinstating the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth link. The old route round Pendinas head has now been built over, and an awful lot of houses would need to be demolished to reinstate it. The only solution that I can see is a short tunnel under Pendinas head. There's a map here. The remainder of the route is not particularly problematic, and the tunnel on my video to avoid the Gwili railway is not strictly necessay, it just cuts out a very twisty section of track which I think is probably best left as a scenic, heritage railway.

In the north, Caernarfon is a problem, but not a completely insuperable one. Going through Caernarfon would mean reinstating the tunnel under Y Maes/Castle Square, which is presently used as a road tunnel.

There is quite a lot of track to reinstate between Bangor and Afon Wen, which I why I think it would be better in the first instance to achieve the north-south link with just a short stretch of brand new track between Llandecwyn and Llan Ffestiniog.

The Dyfi Crossing shown on the video is also not strictly necessary. But the idea is that it should be a combined rail and road bridge. Map here, road link between Tal-y-bont and Aberdyfi in red, rail in blue. This would not only cut out the rail detour via Dyfi Junction, but also cut out a much longer (30km) road detour via Machynlleth. It would completely transform both road and rail links up and down the west coast.

As for the route between Builth Wells and Caersws via Rhayader and Llanidloes, I don't have a problem with it at all, but it has its own difficulties. The major difficulty is at Llanidloes, where the old rail line is now the main road. It is difficult to see an alternative for either the railway or the road.

Mathew Hywel's blog said...

Owen - sorry but your idea of a north-south link on the other side of Wales is laughably unrealistic. The whole point of having a link on the west side is that it connects 4 very important university towns and connects the whole of Wales. There is a Wales beyond Bridgend, you know.

MH said...

Although I too prefer the western option, I wouldn't dimiss the other options out of hand, Mathew.

Reinstating the line from Caersws to Builth Road has actually been been advocated for rather different reasons than to provide a north-south strategic link, and the ability to kill two birds with one stone increases its viability. This is a paragraph from an Assembly Report in 2010

Re-opening of the Moat Lane junction to Builth Road section
primarily for freight operation to enable increased use of both the
Cambrian and Heart of Wales lines for freight movements between
South Wales and North West England and give some relief to the
congestion in the Cardiff-Newport areas.


Future Railway Infrastructure in Wales

It's worth reading the whole report.

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Also I've now looked again at Owen's proposal for Llanidloes, and agree that what he shows is the only way of doing it. The railway would need to be reinstated on its original route (because railways are less tolerant of gradients and curves) and a new by-pass road would need to be built to the east.

Anonymous said...

Talking about a brand new piece of line between Ffestiniog and Llandecwyn gives away your ignorance about railways and what you and this blog are about. If it had been possible to link the coast with Ffestiniog by standard gauge it would have been done in the 19th or early 20th century. As for a new north/south link it has little to do with demand but everything to do with not crossing into wicked England which one day you dream of making a foreign land with border posts...pathetic.

Jac o' the North, said...

Anon 18:48: You seem to be a very silly boy with a chip on your shoulder. Perhaps you haven't started driving yet. If you had, and if you regularly travelled north - south (rather than west - east) you'd appreciate the problem.

Last Friday I travelled from near Tywyn to Swansea. The obvious route is down the coast before cutting inland at Llanrhystud or Aberaeron. (Check a map.) But I prefer to add 20 miles to my journey by taking the mountain road from Machynlleth to Llanidloes where I pick up the A470, which I leave at Brecon to head into Swansea via the Swansea Valley. Even though it's longer in terms of miles the roads are better, and have less traffic. If there was a direct train to Swansea I'd use it, as would many others.

Also, if it's possible to have a narrow gauge line from the coast to Ffestioniog, which it is, then it's obviously possible to have a standard gauge line. Even if it means replacing the narrow gauge line. Because obviously the Welsh national interest must take precedence over English hobby railways.

So don't be silly. And "pathetic".

Anonymous said...

Ffestiniog Railway is only able to make the decent at those gradients because of the radius capability of the 2 foot gauge, you don't know what you're talking about.

The line from Caernarfon to Bangor should never have been closed but the local population didn't support the line, Caernarfon to Afon Wen only remained as long as it did to transport those awful English people to Butlins.

Aberystwyth to Carmarthen is a nice pipe dream but will never happen because it wouldn't generate enough money to pay for 5 miles of line and signalling. There is no national interest only nationalist interest...and the rail enthusiasts of course.

Jac o' the North, said...

You're obviously one of those who believes everything wrong with Wales is our fault; anything good must be attributed to you English. I suppose this is the belief that underpinned - or at least 'justified' - English colonialism: 'They can't manage without us'.

Though it's amazing that this mindset can be found in 2014 with the empire a distant memory, John Bull with his head permanently lodged up Uncle Sam's arse, an army no bigger than the Peruvian army, little manufacturing industry left, an 'economy' reduced to overpriced housing and shysters in the City of London, corrupt cops, discredited politicians, law-breaking media, more people in poverty than ever before, an Old Etonian government and golf club bigots on the march. No wonder the Jocks want out.

MH said...

The Ffestiniog Railway was designed to a gradient of 1:80, because that was deemed to be the maximum gradient for horses to haul the empty wagons back up, see here. That's why it twists and turns so much.

From memory, I calculated the maximum gradient of the Llandecwyn to Llan Ffestiniog link at 1:42 or 2.4%, which is not exactly gentle, but certainly a lot more gentle than the railway gradients listed here. But to do this requires the odd viaduct. For example this image shows the viaduct needed to cross Ceunant Llennyrch at the Maentwrog power station, looking back up towards Llyn Trawsfynydd. Please bear in mind that Google Earth does have its limitations.

Note from the link above that the Cologne-Frankfurt high speed line has a section with a gradient of 1:25 and the LGV Sud-Est line has a section with a gradient of 1:28.

Anonymous said...

Jac is obviously beyond help living in his bubble of bile. MH makes constructive points but the bottom line is it will never happen, putting a freight only line back into passenger use is costly enough and the fact that it would probably have been taken out of passenger use in the 50's and 60's tells its own story. Even in communist countries there needs to be an economic case for building new infrastructure but this is the most ludicrous suggestion I've ever seen yet! To be fair you make your case in a cogent and calm manner unlike Jac but I'll leave you and this blog of strange dreamers to it...Thanks.

BoiCymraeg said...

High speed rail can travel at steeper gradients because of its extra speed, and we're certainly not talking about HSR here.

The fact is, we already have a decent enough N-S railway in Wales: the existing Newport>Shrewsbury>Chester line. Sure, if you're going from Cardiff to, say, Bangor, it's pretty frustrating to have to do so via the English borders. But actually, between many North Welsh centers of population and many Southern centers, the existing line is a reasonably logical route. A journey between Wrexham (the biggest town in the North, lest we forget) and Cardiff takes just over 2:30 hours, which is rather longer than it could potentially be, but already shorter than any route North via the west is ever likely to be. Wrexham, Flint, Prestatyn and probably Rhyl are almost certainly always going to be faster to reach from Cardiff by the existing route than by any new line, even if it runs through the middle of Wales rather than along the West coast.

Which isn't to say that such a line shouldn't be built - there would be significant local benefits to connecting the North and Cambrian Coast lines to each other via Caernarfon, allowing for a 'Varsity' service between Bangor and Aberystwyth to replace the painfully slow X32 Trawscambria Bus, as well as connecting Caernarfon back to the network (currently the 2nd largest town in Wales without a train station by my reckoning, after Abertillery, which needs only a short spur from the Ebbw Vale line). Connecting Aberystwyth to the south would probably be less advantageous relative to the cost, although may also be worth considering.

If we're concerned mainly with improving connections between North and South Wales however, we need to focus on the existing line. For a journey between Cardiff and, say, Llandudno Junction, a Western Coast route is likely to offer a journey time which, at the very best, is no better than the current route. The existing line could be improved and upgraded however to allow for greater line speeds, bringing the time down to perhaps about 3hrs 30 (it's currently 4:15), which is probably as fast as is ever likely without huge shifts in technology or patterns of rail usage. It would cost a fraction of the cost of building a West coast line, and bring benefit to a larger number of people. Given that lots of the line is in England, it would also not be unreasonable to expect the English to foot at least some of the bill.

Jac o' the North, said...

Anon 12:06: "Bubble of bile" Love it! Love it!

Boi Cymraeg: "If we're concerned mainly with improving connections between North and South Wales however, we need to focus on the existing line". Why? This would be of no use to our second city and the 700,000 people living west of Bridgend. This venture must be justified as a line linking the north with the south west, not as another way of getting to Cardiff.

MH said...

It's not a question of speed, as if a train can get up any gradient if it gets a good run at it, BoiC. It's a question of power to weight ratio. If there is any generalization to be made, it's that passenger services can usually cope with gradients better than freight services. Most freight services are made up of a long string of cars hauled by one engine, but passenger trains can be driven by power bogies under every car or every other car.

The point is that a 1:40 slope isn't a problem for a passenger service; and that a freight service can, if necessary, take the long way round. It just won't matter if a freight journey is a few hours longer, because so much of the overall time is spent handling the freight at either end.

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As for the journeys you mention, they are fine if you regard south Wales as Cardiff. But what about a journey from Bangor to Llanelli, or Swansea to Llandudno? We are looking for a nationwide rail network, not journeys to and from just Cardiff. But, as I post this, I can see Royston has just made the same point.

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And I certainly don't think that we should ignore small improvements like the spur to Abertillery, or reinstating the line to Llangefni and Amlwch. But I do think small improvements like these make much more sense when put into the context of developing a rail network to serve the whole country.

BoiCymraeg said...

I don't doubt that a west coast route would speed up the journey between Swansea and Bangor. I'm just concerned that the financial costs of such a project are not justified by its benefits as a N-S link. Cardiff obviously isn't the whole of S Wales, of course not. But, allowing for where railways already exist, the reality is that most possible N-S journeys will travel through Cardiff whether they get there via a Western or eastern route. Yes, Swansea is poorly served by the existing network, to which you could also add Llanelli and Neath in terms of major conurbations, but balanced against those three you have Cardiff, Newport, Barry, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Bridgend, Cwmbran, Pontypool, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil & the vast bulk of the S Wales valleys. Like I said, even if a W-Coast line is built, most journeys between north and south Wales will *still* go via the eastern route.

Which, as I said before, isn't to say that we shouldn't do it - if the local demand is enough then it would be perfectly justified. I don't know the S-West very well at all, but I'd certainly expect a link to Caernarfon to be worth setting up regardless of whatever else happens. I'm just suggesting that an expensive new line along the West coast is probably not the best project to prioritise when other developments will bring similar or greater benefits, for much less investment.

Anonymous said...

What i'd like to see are proper costings. It's very easy saying "look they want to spend £1bn on an M4" so therefore money is now object. In reality there are alot of things that £1bn is already needed for!

Jac o' the North, said...

BoiCymraeg, I hear what you're saying but the mistake you're making is to limit potential passenger traffic to resident populations.

You may be right in saying that even with a west coast line most north - south journeys would still be along the east side of the country . . . but there's no guarantee of that. What you are neglecting to put into the mix is tourist and other traffic. This is always done in calculating road traffic. So let's consider this factor.

You mentioned a number of cities and towns in the south east. Now with the best will in the world, how many tourists go to Aberdare, Newport, Pontypool, Cwmbran? Compare that with the western side of the country: Gower, Pembrokeshire, Cardigan Bay, Snowdonia. In addition, there's the student users: Swansea (2), Carmarthen, Lampeter, Aber', Bangor.

Further, as I stated in an earlier reply, the A470 is a joy to drive on compared with the A487, which runs from Bangor to Haverfordwest. Many people would be tempted out of their cars just to avoid the traffic, or to make journeys they currently won't attempt by car, into Carmarthen, Aberystwyth or Bangor.

So any consideration of a west coast line must look at the bigger picture, not just limit potential users to the current resident population.

Ifan said...

This is a good argument, although I'd argue that what Wales really needs is a half decent road from north to south Wales. I live in south Wales and commute weekly to my job in north Wales (don't ask why!). The roads are of course atrocious - it takes me almost four hours to get to North Wales, about the same time it would take me to get to London (which may well be the idea!).

A train would serve a handful of communities, but any town or village not visited by that train (whatever route it took) would miss out. A decent road (two lanes with a middle lane for overtaking at the very least) would be useful to all, as you could join it by car when you needed to and then leave it to get to where you wanted to go. Trains don't offer this service - at least, not at the end of the journey.

I know that ideally we could have more public transport in Wales. But with such a scattered population it's always going to be difficult.

How you would get the Welsh Government to support such a massive infrastructure project outside their back yard is another matter.

BoiCymraeg said...

While we're on the subject of Railways in north Wales, something else I would like to see - and it amazes me that I've never heard this mentioned before, given how it would presumably require little to no work to make feasible - is a direct service between Llandudno and Bangor/Anglesey. Currently, to get the train from Bangor to Llandudno, you have to change at Llandudno Junction, and then generally wait about 15 minutes or so to get a connecting train, making the total journey time much longer than driving would be (trains from Llandudno itself, as opposed to Junction, which isn't really anywhere near Llandudno, travel direct only to Manchester and Blaenau Ffestiniog). It would require no real additional infastructure and I reckon would be reasonably busy - there's quite a lot of traffic between Gwynedd & Llandudno, for the beach/shopping/cinema etc., and the train could stop at the local stations, thus speeding up longer-distance routes. The number 5 bus between Caernarfon & Llanduno via Bangor is often very busy.

A direct train would have to enter and exit Llandudno Junction station by the same direction, but I see no reason why this would be a problem (there's even a Bay platform ideal for this purpose). For now, it could start at Holyhead, but in the long term it could start at Caernarfon or Llangefni once one of those branches is reopened - for some reason most proposals of the Llangefni branch seem to expect the train to terminate at Bangor.

T. Rhydgaled W. said...

The statement "closure of these routes was a mistake" is no longer one I totally agree with. Closing the Bangor - Caernarfon section almost certainly was a mistake, but I'm not so sure about the rest. I now feel that reopening some of these old lines would be a bad idea.

The reason for this opinion is that significantly improved bus services might do just as well as the old railways, which would not be fit-for-purpose today, at lower cost. Re-linking these parts of Wales by rail is only worth doing if it provides something buses cannot. In my opinion that means, if you are building railways, the journey time must not exceed that possible by car. In places, that dictates building a new railway rather than reopening the old curvaceous one.

There's also the question of which new lines to build, and where the money will come from. I'll try to answer the second question first. If, as I hope, Wales gets a Barnett consequential from the construction of HS2 then, in my opinion, it MUST be ring-fenced for building new lines in Wales. That then helps answer the first question. A £1.9bn consequential might buy you a Y-Shape similar to HS2 itself. This would be formed of: Bangor - Porthmadog, Welshpool - Gobowen and Newtown - Merthyr. Sadly I don't think there would be any money left for Carmarthen - Aberystwyth as well. Brecon - Merthyr would need to be a completely new (fast) route, and I'd back MH's dotted-blue-route proposal to link the Caernarfon line directly to Porthmadog rather than going via Afon Wen.

T. Rhydgaled W. said...

As for building a new Carmarthen - Aberystwyth railway, aside from finding the money I believe there are actually three major challenges:
1. The Pendinas tunnel out of Aberystwyth,
2. The Gwili tunnel (which wouldn't actually save the steam railway, but is needed for speed. I propose relocating the steam railway to Whitland and the route from there towards Crymych) and
3. Getting past Llanfarian. (The video in the post above shows that you've found the same solution I did, but it looks like a tight squeeze and I'm not completely sure it would fit.)

As a 'bonus challenge' Carmarthen - Aberystwyth cannot be phased, as far as I can see. It's all or nothing. On the other hand:
A. Welshpool - Gobowen is a relatively short line to build,
B. Newtown - Merthyr can reasonably be split into Merthyr - Brecon, Brecon - Builth Road and Builth Road - Newtown phases and
C. Bangor - Porthmadog can be split into two phases at Caernarfon.
The nearest I can get to phasing with Carmarthen - Aberystwyth is building the new rail alignment from Llanfarian into Aberystwyth as a congestion-busting bus-only road. Given the major challenges of the Gwili tunnel and Pendinas tunnel, and the small size of everywhere in between building only half the railway (from one end to Lampeter) doesn't have a good case.

There's another problem with Carmarthen - Aberystwyth, which is much cheaper financially to resolve than the others. It could also be resolved in advance (and certainly must feature in the new franchise in 2018 if it is to happen at all) to boost the case for the Carmarthen - Aberystwyth line. The snag is that the solution might be politically difficult. This problem is the target market. The obvious one is Aberystwyth - Swansea, nothing wrong with that.

But what about Aberystwyth - Cardiff? Bristol (via Cardiff)? The problem with both (in fact, any travel from west of Llanelli to Port Talbot and further east) is that the train takes a circuitous route via Swansea, while the M4 doesn't. Remember what I said earlier about not building a rail route if it's going to be slower than the car? Of course the railway though Swansea already exists, so we shouldn't close it. So what of my relatively cheap but politically difficult solution? Put in an hourly express service between Carmarthen and Cardiff which doesn't call at Swansea (or anywhere else except Llanelli and Port Talbot) using the Swansea District Line. Every two hours, it could extend from Carmarthen to Milford Haven. In the other hours, it would be free to extend to Aberystwyth if the brand new line is ever built.

MH said...

Thanks for those two detailed comments, Rhydgaled.

It's clear that you've done quite a bit of work on things, and I have too, so I wonder if you'd be prepared to email me directly with a view to exchanging a few notes. Please use this address.

MH said...

Some quick public comments on what you've written, Rhydgaled.

I'm not sure that rail can only be justified if it's faster than road. The other factor is whether it's more convenient. People can work and move around on trains in a way that they can't do on a coach/bus. So although speed is important, it isn't everything. Also, the measurement is not how it compares with a car journey (which from point to point will almost always be faster) but with a coach journey.

For me, it's important that we plan what the shape of our rail network should be, particularly with respect to strategic long-distant routes. I guess we'd agree on that point. It then doesn't matter so much in what order we complete the missing pieces of the network.

Of the three sections you mention in the first post, I think that Welshpool-Gobowen is definitely a good idea, because it allows good links from central Wales to north east Wales (Wrecsam in particular) without having to go through Shrewsbury. I think that the section from Newtown to Builth Road is then a good option to connect with the Heart of Wales line, and it was also identified in the Assembly report I linked to. That will result in a good route from south west to north east Wales. The big problem here (as mentioned above, with Owen's solution) is Llanidloes.

The section from Builth to Merthyr is much more problematic.

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I'm glad you like the blue dotted route between Porthmadog and Caernarfon. We obviously see eye-to-eye on the "need for speed". The difficulty is how to reinstate the route through Caernarfon. I think it can be done, for it's fairly easy to avoid Morrisons.


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As for Swansea/Neath, I agree that a radical solution is needed. I'm sure I produced a map once, but can't find it. I did mention my idea here, namely that I think the best solution would be a new main Swansea/Neath station at Llansamlet (for easy links to the M4) using the chord you mentioned. I would then turn the existing twisty line into a light rail service from Port Talbot through Neath and then to Swansea but extend the service to run along the streets of central Swansea and then towards Mumbles on the old tram line. I'd also reinstate the line through Lower Sketty through Dunvant to Gowerton ... and then maybe on to Pontarddulais.

T. Rhydgaled W. said...

Thanks for the reply, MH. I'll certainly drop you an e-mail at some stage, but it might take a while to get round to it (I've still got three or four other transport-related e-mails to reply to).

In response to your public comments, though:

"I'm not sure that rail can only be justified if it's faster than road. The other factor is whether it's more convenient." The question there is whether we are talking about existing railways or new ones. Keeping existing railways running is almost certainly justified whether they are faster or not. However, the cost of building a new railway will take serious justification.

"Also, the measurement is not how it compares with a car journey (which from point to point will almost always be faster) but with a coach journey." I have to disagree with you there. Of the three objectives listed in your quote from TrawsLinkCymru above (boost the economy, protect the environment and connect the nation) it is the environment which is my main concern. Thus what really matters is attracting modal shift away from cars, whether onto trains or buses. If attracting passengers out of their cars onto buses wasn't so damn difficult, I'd probably be saying stick with TrawsCymru. So a rail link has to offer something to help get passengers out of cars that TrawsCymru can't offer, and that something as far as I'm concerned is speed. Since it is cars, not buses, that we need to attract passengers out of, the speed of the car is the comparator.

As for the routes of any new railways, if you have Google Earth I can e-mail you my KML files. I hope to present them on an OS map in future, but that will take time. Llanidloes looks easy compared to my nice and straight 90mph route south of there. With Llanidloes couldn't you just sink the road a little lower and put the railway on a deck above it?

I still think Swansea High Street station should be the destination of the INTERCITY route from London, and I'm not sure missing out Neath is worth the cost of the chord allowing London trains on the SDL to access Swansea High Street station. However, there absolutely needs to be a regional express service (using a class 158 or 175 unit) between Carmarthen and Cardiff calling at only Llanelli and Port Talbot (and perhaps a new station at Morriston on the SDL), ideally joined by linespeed improvements on the SDL and between Carmarthen and Llanelli.

As you may have seen from my posts on the forum I'd also like to see a local tram-train/ValleyLines network for the Swansea area.

T. Rhydgaled W. said...

Oh, and another thing I've just remembered, about Carmarthen - Aberystwyth.

Another threat to a rail link is the requirement for a second standard-guage platform at Aberystwyth. At present, I think there is just enough room (if you move the narrow guage run-round loop slightly) to squeese the new Carmarthen platform in between the Vale Of Rheidol platform and the current Shrewsbury platform. However, I do not know where the Vale Of Rheidol are planning to put their new museum (using the roof of London Bridge station). Not, I hope, near Aberystwyth station, as that could block any hope of getting the Carmarthen link into the station and could impact on the setting of Aberystwyth's own listed station building.

A better idea might be for the Vale Of Rheidol to build 'London Bridge' near their Llanbardan halt (near the level crossing close to Morrisons).

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