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Traws Link Cymru - threat to the Gwili?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Felix Holt, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. acorb

    acorb Well-Known Member

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    You inadvertently make the strongest case for reopening this line. The very point that money flows currently East to West is why this part of Wales feels so detached from Cardiff, which takes up to 6 hours to reach by train. Cardiff is booming now, but it certainly isn't being felt everywhere in the country and with north-south transport links so poor, something needs to be done to address this. But I for one don't want to see the A470 converted to a 6 lane motorway anytime soon ..
    There really isn't any surprise that the economic case is not great, given the rural nature of the area. The argument for reopening is social and political, two areas which are subjective and hard to quantify.
    It has to be said that many of the same arguments were laid against the Borders railway, the economics there were always considered knife edge, but have exceeded even the most optimistic forecast. It depends on how we view railways, as methods of transport for today's residents and traffic flows, or as tools for opening up economic opportunity and spreading wealth around the country. Wasn't that the purpose of railways 150 years ago?
    There are certainly better reopening candidates elsewhere in the UK, but I can't think of a better one in Wales.
    I note it is no coincidence that Plaid Cymru have made it a central part of their manifesto, obviously noting developments in Scotland. If Wales is to become more economically resilient and less reliant on its neighbour, money and people will need to move increasingly South - North, rather than West - East.
     
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  2. Thompson1706

    Thompson1706 Well-Known Member

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    It would be much cheaper for the Welsh government to start a helicopter service between the two towns & use the multi millions saved on sensible schemes.

    Bob.
     
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  3. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    Cardiff is booming and likely to remain so with the abolition of the bridge toll. Therein lies the conundrum. If you had 750 million should you invest in Cardiff and the Valleys or a railway some 100 miles distant? It’s a bad sign that electrification to Swansea has been abandoned. That would have ensured a faster service to get to Carmarthen for anyone wanting to get to Aber.

    This brings us onto another problem in that investment isn’t reaching as far west as Swansea (barrage project shelved for example) which is Wales’ second city let alone further west/north.

    Rural West Wales needs a shot in the arm but opening the line would in my view be a very small part of a huge process to kick start the economy into life, if indeed it is at all possible.


    The clincher for investment in Cardiff and the Valleys as a priority is the number of Labour seats held there by AM’s.

    Regards

    Matt
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
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  4. JWKB

    JWKB New Member

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    I'm afraid you are being selective with how you view the data. If we accept the arguments traffic flow west - easy then all areas are either served by or within a 30 minute drive of the current rail network. Again if you want to go up or down the best route is Howl for West Wales and the Matches route for East Wales.

    It would be something if either Aber or Carmarthen were not on the rail map but they are and form an intrinsic part of there local network.

    I'm terms of route reopening there are far better options in the valleys and East Wales which would yield a better

    Finally in regards to Plaid whilst it interesting to note what Adam Price has done since taking over, he does have a habit of swinging from talking absolute sense to complete tosh. I say that as someone who support him as my local AM.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  5. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    The difference is that the Waverley reopening had a BCR greater than 1, and the issue was that it was not high enough. The BCR of this is 0.43, meaning the costs far outweigh the economic benefits.

    Personally, I also find the argument in the last paragraph to beg some serious questions. I question why it is necessary to assess the economic viability of parts of Wales in terms of Wales as a whole, or in opposition to the economic catchments that different parts of Wales align to.

    As a British taxpayer resident in England, I fail to understand the principle of why my taxes, directly or indirectly, should help to fund an initiative of a nationalist party to redefine the nation of Wales so as to lay the groundwork for independence.

    Given the deeply rural nature of this part of Wales, the money involved can almost certainly be spent to far better effect on other projects rather than this exercise in vanity.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  6. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    The Waverley route also goes from one small town to a very large city with a couple of decent sized park and rides en route. Aberystwyth to Carmarthen would run between two small towns via a couple of much smaller towns and a few villages.

    Like @Thompson1706 says, it would cheaper to provide a helicopter service for everyone in the region!
     
  7. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed, which is why the BCR for Aberystwyth-Camarthen is so appalling.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  8. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    The fact that it is being mooted must be heartening though. That said, the Borders Railway, for which there was an obvious demand, is 35 miles long but this proposal will reinstate 50 miles. So quite a proposal.
     
  9. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Though the momentum to reinstate the rest of the Waverley route seems to be increasing.
     
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  10. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    We are having much discussion of whether re-instating the whole line is a good or bad idea, and not much discussion of the declared incompatibility of a through service as part of the national network with the Gwili, but no mention at all of what the Gwili is for. Lines that were closed and have been retained or (more often) re-instated by preservation societies have more than one purpose. They are tourist attractions, they have an educational function, and they attract volunteers for a combination of reasons that certainly includes playing trains on a large scale. But is there not an element of "it was wrong for this line to be closed and we want to keep it in operation"? Even when a line initially re-opens from nowhere to nowhere, is there not a desire to extend so it can offer more of a real journey?

    I am not arguing that the line necessarily should be re-opened throughout, and the present Gwili operation relocated to somewhere else, but shouldn't we at least consider what we think of that scenario from the viewpoint of railway enthusiasts?
     
  11. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    This is just my personal view but I think many railways have evolved from “would be nice to keep open” to “we are now a significant player in the tourism market”.

    Again personally speaking it’s difficult to argue with the notion that where an economically viable case is made, that a heritage railway should step aside. However what happens where that case is not made out? Is it still then an economic argument or simply a moral one?

    Regards

    Matt
     
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  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think you mean "mooted". (Being muted means being silenced - the opposite of what you mean, I think).

    Tom
     
  13. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    And most of those villages will not have a station...

    I'm sure @Matt78 will correct me if I'm wrong, I think the old line had about 20 stations along the route to serve the remote villages, now only 4 or 5 are proposed. Does this really help the remote communities?
    I'm sure I once heard a tale of this being called the "Farmers Wives" line. The story goes that this was because the line speeds were so slow the women from the remote farms could wait at a convenient crossing anywhere and the train would stop to take them to market or whatever. Strangely enough that is exactly what the busses do now. They pick you up anywhere and drop you off at your house or farm gate or wherever on the way back. We only have formal bus stops in town. I can't see any new rail service 'serving the community' in a similar fashion.
    I also have a sneaky feeling that it is only the number of passengers picked up in the intervening villages that keeps the bus service solvent, and they are the people any new line would not serve. I believe there are many more people in remote(ish) locations moving to and from the bigger towns and villages than ever travel between those bigger locations.

    And If we do have to relocate I'd suggest the old route between Cardigan to Whitland, (just) might be suitable compensation. (With a bit of help from NR to get from the junction into the bay platform at Whitland of course...) :D
     
  14. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Member

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    Whilst I can see the potential to extend to Hawick, from there to Carlisle is much less promising, I think.
     
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  15. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    (A personal opinion, and putting the merits or otherwise of the reopening to one side)

    Looking for a line to “relocate” is a whole lot more complicated than just picking a route. The report suggests several options-

    Carmarthen to Llandeilo - route to be used by Towy Valley Cycle Path so not an option

    Llandysul to NCE - route partially obliterated by by pass at one end, Teifi Valley occupies central section

    Lampeter to Aberaeron - some development on land at Aberaeron station and along route

    Whitland to Cardigan - much development along then route, line terminates 2.5 miles from Whitland station

    In all the above cases a Transport and Works order would be required. How much would that cost, CPO’s required for land, infrastructure and equipment to be moved or constructed, route to be rebuilt.. The figures could run into many millions.

    Relocation, certainly within the West Wales area, just isn’t an option despite the comments in the report.

    Regards

    Matt
     
  16. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Quite right but there is also a bit of me that doesn't give a hoot or is that hute? No, don't let's go there ;)
     
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  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Ha! - good one. I'm not normally much of a grammar or spelling pedant, and recognise that there are several valued members of the forum who often have interesting things to say despite difficulties spelling. Generally, I don't comment in such cases if the meaning remains clear; however moot / mute is one of those cases where the wrong word changes the intended meaning completely.

    Anyway, we digress...

    Tom
     
  18. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    That wasn't really a serious proposal (hence the big grin :)) but if a relocation did come about I wouldn't expect the railway to have to pay any of those costs, or relocation costs or whatever. The more difficult (and therefore expensive) it would be to relocate the Gwili the more the whole scheme would cost... There must come a point somewhere when even the political will accepts that this is just another WIBN scheme that will never justify the expense.

    One thing that does worry me is that with this report not completely putting a stop to this scheme is how is this uncertainty going to affect donations or grants to the railway? Will some people be put off donating by the idea that in four or five years time what they have sponsored has to be removed to make way for the new line? Will the Council, Heritage Lottery or any other local agencies still be prepared to seriously consider grant applications when this report has said that it would not be possible to co-exist with a reinstated rail service thereby putting the long term future of the railway in doubt? I hope all the relevant bodies will announce, sooner rather than later, that this scheme is a non starter to remove that doubt.
     
  19. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, appreciate your suggestion was tongue in cheek but the report is of course seriously advocating this (without much thought I might add).

    I agree wholly with you sentiments about the uncertainty. I haven’t seen an announcement of any kind from the Government, only some jockeying from Plaid in opposition. With the next elections due in 2021 this saga may have some way to run yet.

    Grants generally have a 5 year type clawback so there is no reason why the railway should not continue to attract awards unless there was an official adoption of the policy to re-open. I think we’ve also seen the highly sceptical reactions of many on this forum with respect to supporter/shareholders funding.

    Realistically speaking the next action in this drama is going to involve investigation of the Tregaron Bog. The whole show could well sink into the ground at that point (pun intended!)

    Regards

    Matt
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
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  20. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    Oh dear, you realise you may have opened a can of worms with that?
    This being NP why do I feel what's coming next are comments about the WGA not being flush with cash? The political opposition making a big stink ? etc.etc.
    Oh well folks, go on then if you must. There is no point in being serious all the time I suppose :p:)
     

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