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Old March 21st, 2015, 04:07 PM   #1
dronkula
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West Wales Rail Campaign - Traws Link Cymru

After the success of the Borders railway in Scotland, and a similar Western Ireland rail corridor being reopened, there's a growing campaign to get the rail corridor along West Wales reopened as well.

There 2 main 'projects' for this - reopening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line in the south, and reopening the Porthmadog to Bangor Line in the north.

A charity has been setup to campaign and try and develop these proposals - Traws Link Cymru and they seem to be making the right sort of noises.

At the moment the estimated cost for both projects is apparently around £600 million - which is a lot and train infrastructure has not been devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government so it'll need to be Network Rail that finds that.

It's very very early days yet and the charity behind this are mainly campaigning for a feasibility study at the moment

http://www.trawslinkcymru.org.uk/
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Old March 26th, 2015, 03:43 PM   #2
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Are there maps to show these planned routes?
What would happen to the Welsh Highland railway if the Porthmadog to Bangor were re-opened?
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Old March 30th, 2015, 11:23 PM   #3
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The Bangor route does not use the WHR route via Beddgelert.

It'll carry along the coast to Afon-Wen on the Pwlllheli line and then split there with the track going north to Carmarthan.

It's really really *really* early days - so no detailed maps have been produced yet (at least publicly). Probably because as soon as lines get drawn on maps, land owners start getting very upset...

Phase 1:

Phase 1 calls for a new railway between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. This would involve around 60 miles of new and re-built railway with stations serving major communities on route such as Pencader/Llandysul, Llanybydder, Lampeter, Tregaron and Llanilar – all with park and ride facilities. This would be coupled with work on the Swansea District Line and a new station at Morrison to support a fast, direct train service between Cardiff – Carmarthen – Lampeter – Aberystwyth. This would give competitive journey times of:


Aberystwyth – Cardiff 3 hours
Lampeter – Cardiff 2 hours 15 minutes
Aberystwyth – Carmarthen 1 hour 30 minutes
The Carmarthen – Aberystwyth train could be combined with a Milford Haven or Fishguard service between Cardiff and Carmarthen, and could be extended to Machynlleth for connections up the Cambrian Coast Line. services would be hourly.

Most of the original line is not built on and so could be re-used where appropriate, however where there has been development and where a new alignment would allow for faster speeds, a new course would need to be built.

Phase 2:

Phase 2 calls for 25 miles of new and re-built railway between Afon-Wen on the Cambrian Coast Line and Bangor, coupled with incremental improvements along the Cambrian Coast line to improve journey times. The current Machynlleth – Pwllheli service would be formed of 2 trains which would divide at Afon-Wen with portions for both Pwllheli and Bangor via Caernarfon. This would provide a train service every 2 hours to link mid and north west Wales, with a more frequent local service between Bangor and Porthmadog. While some of the Bangor to Afon-Wen line has been lost to road developments, significant stretches are still clear and the geography of the area allows for a new alignment to be built where needed.

The Cardiff – Bangor journey along the western route would not be a quicker route than the current service via Shrewsbury, but many intermediate journeys would be significantly speeded up. Journeys such as Aberystwyth – Swansea, Lampeter – Machynlleth and Pwllheli – Bangor become possible in a way which they are not at present.
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Old April 7th, 2015, 12:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dronkula View Post
The Bangor route does not use the WHR route via Beddgelert.
It does use the Bangor - Afon Wen route between Caernarfon and Dinas though.
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Old August 23rd, 2015, 01:12 PM   #5
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Small update on this.

http://www.trawslinkcymru.org.uk/?p=635

The important bit:

Quote:
What a month it has been for Traws Link Cymru! So much has happened that it’s hard to know where to begin. Following the meeting in May with Edwina Hart’s ministers in May, TLC were delighted to receive the fantastic news that the Welsh Government will provide £30,000 towards a scoping study on a potential reopening of the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth line. The Welsh Government will work with TLC and other bodies and a report is due in October. We hope this initial study will lead to a full feasibility study on reopening this much needed and much-missed line. We would like to thank all of our supporters who have worked so hard to achieve such a huge milestone so soon in our campaign’s short history.
So - things are actually moving on this. We just have to hope the scoping report is positive in October!
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Old August 23rd, 2015, 01:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Altfish View Post
It does use the Bangor - Afon Wen route between Caernarfon and Dinas though.
There should be plenty of scope around Dinas to widen the route to allow both the WHR and Network Rail trains to pass on that section of line.

I suspect the largest variation and trickiest to sort the route out of the new Network Rail alignment will be around Caernarfon anyway - there's no way they can build the Caernarfon Network Rail station where the current WLR station is as that's a dead end so the route would probably skirt the southern suburbs of Caernarfon with possibly a new station on the Llanberis Road (although there is a quarry in the way on that route and those things tend to grow!).

The old railway line between Caernarfon and Bangor has been completely built over now with the Port Dinorwic bypass so that's probably why the whole North Wales proposal is definitely 'Phase 2' but Aber to Carmarthen (Phase 1) in the south is definitely realistic.
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Old September 8th, 2015, 01:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dronkula View Post
There should be plenty of scope around Dinas to widen the route to allow both the WHR and Network Rail trains to pass on that section of line.

I suspect the largest variation and trickiest to sort the route out of the new Network Rail alignment will be around Caernarfon anyway - there's no way they can build the Caernarfon Network Rail station where the current WLR station is as that's a dead end so the route would probably skirt the southern suburbs of Caernarfon with possibly a new station on the Llanberis Road (although there is a quarry in the way on that route and those things tend to grow!).

The old railway line between Caernarfon and Bangor has been completely built over now with the Port Dinorwic bypass so that's probably why the whole North Wales proposal is definitely 'Phase 2' but Aber to Carmarthen (Phase 1) in the south is definitely realistic.
The problem between Dinas and Caernarfon will be that the WHR shares the old track bed with a very popular (in the summer months anyway) cycleway / footpath.

Caernarfon is a problem, the old tunnel is still there in use as a road but there is a supermarket in the way north of the castle. After that there is a mile or two of fairly untouched track bed before as you say it has been used as a road.
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Old September 12th, 2015, 06:17 PM   #8
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May I pledge my support for this campaign!

Like my native North East, North Wales in particular seems to have been decimated by Beeching. As the region is rather spread out and tourist dependent it makes sense to re link the lines to form a North/South link to South Wales.

I also think that more than just economically, it is a travesty that to train it from most parts of Wales North of Brecon its quicker to go via England. Having a North/South spine that, despite it not being the fastest in the world, should still relink the country together.
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Old December 11th, 2015, 11:18 AM   #9
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Slight update on this.

The Welsh Government commissioned a scoping report to look at the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line and they've now just released the findings.

The full report has been made available by the Traws Link Cymru group:

http://www.trawslinkcymru.org.uk/wp-...port-to-WG.pdf

The very very rough estimate for this line is £750m at the moment and the biggest issue looks like it'll be around Aberystwyth as a lot of the track has been built on. It looks like everywhere else isn't too bad - and there's 'easy' diverts that can be made if the original route isn't available. With Aber it's harder because it has to wind it's way between 2 hills and the river. They've suggested a possible new tunnel under one of the hills to avoid the track that's been built over with housing.

Also, towards Carmarthen part of the track actually has an existing 3 mile heritage railway on it - Gwili Railway (http://www.gwili-railway.co.uk/) and they're in the process of extending this further south to the outskirts of Carmarthen and would not be willing to 'step aside' for a future 'direct' railway line. The topography of the area also makes it hard to widen the route to have double lines running through there to let both services run. The scoping report has recommended a new 3km tunnel which would cut out most of that section (and also make the journey quicker as well). They do make a comment in the scoping report that the report is based on the 'standard' model of Network Rail and the franchised train operator running this but an alternative could be to set this up as a community railway - maybe with Gwili Railway part of that setup.

Other issues highlighted is that a lot of the route has been converted to a cycle track - but again because of the topography, it'll be very problematic to widen the route to allow both trains and a separate cycle track to run alongside it.

The original route also had a lot of level crossings and there is a national policy now that no new level crossings are to be opened unless there is an extremely good reason - so those will likely need to be converted to proper bridge crossings (or the crossing just closed).

The original route had 3 tunnels - all of which are still intact so that's a good point.

The estimate that the journey from Aber to Carmarthan would take 90mins by train. It's generally over 2 hours by bus although it's also roughly 90mins by car as well (depending on traffic).

A 2 hourly service would require a single passing point - which would be at Lampeter. An hourly service would require 3 passing points(Lampeter, Llanpumsaint and Trawscoed). All 3 points at the station sites identified have the space needed to build the larger stations needed for that.

The rough initial costs *excluding land purchases* is £505m. With land costs, they estimate that will rise to £750m

So - next step. The Welsh Government now need to consider the scoping report and decide if they want to proceed with a full feasibility study (around £350k and 90 days to produce that).
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Old February 10th, 2016, 09:50 AM   #10
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So - this is still chugging along.

Latest update from yesterday from the TLC group:

Quote:
A very positive meeting today at the WG offices in Aber. attended by two representatives from TLC, and numerous other interested parties, from The WG,Ceredigion CC, Network Rail, Arriva Trains, GWR Trains,et al.Sadly no representattive from Carmartheshire CC turned up, despite being on the invite list, somewhat surprising for such a game changing campaign.The outcome of which is that more information is needed, and this should be obtained through the first stage of the WelTAG appraisal process (pg 31 of the Scoping Study Report - top box outlined in red). The analysis will be carried out by Claire and AECOM. The aim will be to look closely at the problems associated with, and objectives of, the proposed railway reopening. This process will be completed by the end of February, at which point the Working Group will reconvene in Aberystwyth to consider her report. On the basis of that, a decision will be taken as to whether or not to recommend to the Minister that she agrees to fund a full Feasibility Study.
All in all a good day for the campaign we feel.
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Old July 16th, 2016, 05:58 PM   #11
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Railway line reopening plan may hit the buffers

I would really like to see Carmarthen- Aberystwyth and Afonwen- Bangor reopened, although the latter has a better economy.

Regarding Aber- Carm, here is the latest news, from Cambrian News. Not too good.

Quote:
PLANS to reopen the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen railway line have been cast into doubt following the vote to leave the EU, according to Assembly Member Elin Jones.
Campaigners felt last week that the reintroduction of the line had moved a step closer, after it was revealed a report into the economic case has been commissioned.
But after the referendum result, Miss Jones warned that withdrawal from the EU will make large projects such as this more challenging to realise in Wales.
Due to the Welsh Assembly Elections in May, there has been a spell of uncertainty since a meeting of interested parties was convened in February by Edwina Hart, the then-Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport.
The meeting, which reportedly “went very well”, found agreement that the best way forward was to commission a WelTAG appraisal — a formal appraisal framework for infrastructure development in Wales — before consensus can be reached on whether to advise the minister to commission a full feasibility study.
There was further uncertainty for Traws Link Cymru, the group campaigning to reopen the line, after Ms Hart announced she was not standing for re-election and Ken Skates AM was given her job under the new title Minister for Economy and Infrastructure.
http://www.cambrian-news.co.uk/artic...earchyear=2016
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Old October 18th, 2016, 05:49 PM   #12
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More positive news on this.

Full funding for a feasibility study has been agreed for the 2017/2018 budget. They've allocated £500,000 for that (initial estimate for the feasibility study was £350,000 so it looks like they're taking it seriously).

http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co...ail/story.html

Still along way to go before trains run from Carmarthan to Aber - but the project isn't dead yet!

Brexit might actually have a positive affect on this afterall. Although EU funding will dry up, the Tories will be desperate to show that the UK is better out of the EU so they're going to throw money at these sort of Infrastructure Capital projects - esp in areas which used to receive EU funding.
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Old October 19th, 2016, 04:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dronkula View Post
More positive news on this.

Full funding for a feasibility study has been agreed for the 2017/2018 budget. They've allocated £500,000 for that (initial estimate for the feasibility study was £350,000 so it looks like they're taking it seriously).

http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co...ail/story.html

Still along way to go before trains run from Carmarthan to Aber - but the project isn't dead yet!

Brexit might actually have a positive affect on this afterall. Although EU funding will dry up, the Tories will be desperate to show that the UK is better out of the EU so they're going to throw money at these sort of Infrastructure Capital projects - esp in areas which used to receive EU funding.


Classic pork barreling! As I understand this is Plaid throwing money around as a condition of supporting a Labour budget. I would have thougt spending this money on the valleys lines etc... far more beneficial, but maybe less votes for them there?
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Old October 21st, 2016, 01:03 PM   #14
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Classic pork barreling! As I understand this is Plaid throwing money around as a condition of supporting a Labour budget. I would have thougt spending this money on the valleys lines etc... far more beneficial, but maybe less votes for them there?
Ok, well firstly £350,000 to £500,000 for a feasibility study would not actually pay for any meaningful improvements on the Valley lines.

Secondly, they're already announced, budgetted and are working on Eletrification of the Valley lines, what more do you want?

Thirdly - the whole of South West Wales has terrible public transport. This line would, for example, connect 3 university towns for the first time since the 1960s - helping develop the 'Knowledge-based' economy of West Wales. That would bring benefits to the whole country.
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Old October 17th, 2017, 06:08 PM   #15
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Another update on this....

The full feasibility study into the Carmarthen to Aber line is now underway being produced by engineering consultancy firm Mott Macdonald. They previously reviewed the case for reopening the Borders Railway in Scotland. So, they've got good form on producing these thing.

They started last month. No idea how long it'll take - but I'd suspect it'll be at least next spring before we get the details?
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Old November 9th, 2017, 02:15 PM   #16
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Thanks for keeping up with this dronkula. Whenever I'm in Wales, I am always fascinated by the potential for rail links to help develop the economy. I'm usually travelling by car, but would much rather be on a train.
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