THE RESULTS of a scoping exercise which looked into the practicalities of reopening the Carmarthen – Aberystwyth railway line were published last week (Dec 22).
Earlier this year, following lobbying by Traws Cymru, Economy and Transport Minister, Edwina Hart agreed to fund an initial study on the potential of reopening the railway, which has been closed to passenger traffic since 1965, with a section remaining open for freight until 1973.
AECOM was commissioned by the Welsh Government to provide technical advice, in the form of a report, setting out all the issues to be considered under a full feasibility study into re-opening the line, and providing a scope, programme and cost for that study
Among the key findings of the exercise were that over 97% of the original route remains undeveloped. However, due to residential development at the Aberystwyth end, it is thought that a tunnel would have to be built under Penparcau, which could cost more than £60m.
The core formation – tunnels, embankments and bridges – has generally remained intact, but new bridges would be needed at Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. A new route would possibly have to be found at the Carmarthen end, to replace that currently used by the Gwili Railway.
While it was accepted that the original route may not be the optimal one today, the scoping exercise recognized that the topography of the area does not lend itself to alternative routes.
The costs for the line are, at this stage, highly indicative due to uncertainties about the route and the extent to which the core formation will have to be repaired or replaced. However, the construction cost was estimated to be between £350m and £505m. With land and consent costs, this would rise to £750m.
At present, the Welsh Government-backed bus service between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth was used 102,000 times last year.
The report pointed out that the main population centres were at either end of the route, and suggested that, even with speed restrictions and passing times, a journey time of 90 minutes between the two should be possible.
Commenting on the report, Mrs Hart said: “Improving public transport links is a key priority for this government and this includes increasing access links across rural communities.
“Carmarthen to Aberystwyth is already connected by a regular Welsh Government funded bus service, but I am open-minded to alternative public transport links and this scoping exercise will help inform the debate. Although funding railway infrastructure is non-devolved, I am pleased the Welsh Government has been able to assist with this first step in the possible re-introduction of rail services between these two locations.”
Communities and staff thanked for flood support
COMMUNITIES and staff have been thanked for their work during the Storm Callum Floods. The October floods caused great damage to homes, businesses, roads and bridges in the south of Ceredigion. The floods were the biggest flood event in the last 31 years in Ceredigion.
During the flooding, the council supported the emergency services to prioritise the saving of lives. This included making sure that roads and bridges made dangerous by floodwater were closed. The council’s emergency response and recovery procedures were carried out during the event. Multi-agency emergency procedures were also carried out.
Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Mr Eifion Evans said, “Council staff went above and beyond their duties over the weekend of the floods. I saw their efforts with my own eyes; staff who weren’t on duty were offering to come in to help our residents. We had to send some staff home as they wanted to work longer than the 12 hour maximum that staff are allowed to work in one shift.
I have also been impressed by the huge efforts made by communities to help each other during, and in the aftermath of the flooding.”
After water levels dropped, council staff from Community Wellbeing, Housing and Highways Teams immediately went to the affected areas to offer practical support and advice. They also saw the extent of the damage that had been caused.
Everyone who has been in touch with the council has been offered help with housing, including being offered emergency temporary accommodation where needed. The Housing Team have worked with local landlords and B&B owners to provide additional accommodation, and to provide ongoing support for people who have been affected by the flood.
The Community Wellbeing Team have also provided advice and specialist equipment to residents to help to begin to dry out their homes. This support is ongoing.
The council organised drop-in sessions in Lampeter, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Llechryd. The sessions were attended by many organisations that can offer support and advice. The sessions gave residents the chance to ask the organisations any questions they had about recovering from the flood.
The Highways Team have arranged a free service to pick-up and dispose of flood damaged materials and have put skips in local household waste sites for flood damaged possessions. The team also cleared 100 tons of earth from the B4459 near Capel Dewi after a landslide covered the road. The Highways Team also repaired damaged roads and bridges.
Mr Evans continued, “The council is dedicated to helping our residents recover from the devastating effects of the recent floods. I understand that the impact is still very raw for people who have been affected, especially those who have been made homeless. I want to reassure every resident that our committed staff are working hard to help you. Despite severe pressure on council budgets, we will do everything in our power to continue to offer practical help to residents.”
A flood recovery group has met regularly to look at how the Council can target help in the most effective way. A further flood newsletter will be published in the near future. The Council will also be hosting flood advice surgeries and building on the work of developing emergency support groups for flooding.
More information about the help the council can offer is available on the website on www.ceredigion.gov.uk/stormcallumfloods
Training company enjoy successful open evening
HYFFORDDIANT CEREDIGION TRAINING (HCT) enjoyed a successful open evening on November 7 as it opened its doors to the public.
Opening HCT’s doors gave people the opportunity to see the fantastic range of training opportunities available for them. This included opportunities for young people who are interested in seeing what apprenticeships HCT has to offer.
Mark Gleeson, Manager for Post 14 Vocational Learning said, “It is important that HCT holds open evenings to showcase different learning opportunities that are available to all learners. HCT offers a large number of apprenticeships which ensures that the next generation of skilled workforce is being trained and employed by local companies. This is very important to the economy of Ceredigion.”
There was an opportunity to have a tour of the building, to speak to tutors, to have a look at the workshops, and to see trainees and apprentices in action. This gave a flavour of the kind of work that is done daily at the training centre.
Traineeships and apprenticeships, but also evening classes, are taught at HCT, as Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet Member for Learning Service and Lifelong Learning explains, “If studying towards a full qualification in a given trade is not what you are after, but you want to gain some of the basic skills in the various routes HCT specialises in, why not join an evening class? The next round of evening courses are beginning now. So, what are you waiting for? Contact HCT to see what it has to offer you.”
Evening classes run for six weeks and HCT offers these 2-3 times per year. HCT offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Agriculture, Motor Mechanics and Welding.
For more information, find ‘Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training’ on Facebook, or visit the website, http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/public-it/hct/index.html
Vandalism at coastguard lookout point
POLICE are investigating vandalism at the old coastguard lookout point at Bird’s Rock.
A council spokesperson said: “We’re very sad to see vandalism to the old coastguard look out at Bird’s Rock on the coastal path a mile to the west of New Quay last week.
“All five windows was smashed – some even had their wooden frames ripped out.”
Melanie Heath, Ceredigion County Council’s Marine Protected Area Officer, added: “This act of vandalism is so distressing to see. The look-out was restored thanks to a special grant from the Crown Estate. It is used by our Dolphin and Porpoise Watch volunteers throughout the monitoring season. It is also a special place for many local people and visitors alike to sit for a while and take in the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay.”
If anyone has any information, contact Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on 101
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