Imagine the railway line from Carmarthen to Aberystwth, via Lampeter, re-opened fifty years on! From a germ of an idea first raised at a Transition Llambed meeting, to meetings with heavyweight politicians Edwina Hart and Stephen Crabb – that’s how far we have come in little over a year! After a couple of inaugural public meetings in Victoria Hall, set up and organised by Rob Phillips and David Morgan in the autumn of 2013, a committee was established and nitty gritty matters such as a name, constitution, officers and a plan of action were drawn up, and Traws Link Cymru came into being.
We were kick-started into action by a televised debate on the floor of the Welsh Assembly, initiated by regional AM Simon Thomas, advocating the re-opening of the line.
Since then, successful public meetings have been held at Tregaron, Llanybydder and latterly Aberystwyth, and over 8,000 names gathered on both paper and on-line petitions. Twenty-four AMs have pledged their support, three local MPs and forty-one town and community councils. Both Ceredigion and Sir Gâr County Councils have passed motions of support, and there has been coverage on BBC Wales Today, S4C’s Newyddion and BBC Radio Cymru, featuring interviews with TLC members. Carwyn Jones, Wales’s First Minister was even heard to say that he supported re-opening the line in principle!
At the end of January a small delegation of TLC members, together with local AM Elin Jones, met with Edwina Hart, Assembly Finance and Transport Minister, to put our case. Edwina Hart was very receptive, agreeing that we should meet with her civil servants in Cardiff to discuss how we could work towards a feasibility study. Subsequently, in an interview with Huw Edwards on the Wales Report, she spoke passionately about the importance of Wales having its own rail network, with the re-opened line as part of an integrated social and economic vision.
Next up, Traws Link Cymru members will be travelling up to London for a meeting with Stephen Crabb, Secretary of State for Wales, on 24th February. Rail infrastructure is not currently devolved and we hope to get his support for devolution of these powers and a fair financial settlement to help re-build the line, particularly as a consequence of the massive HS2 spending in England.
So you can see, Traws Link Cymru has taken huge strides this year! 2015 also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the closure of the line. Several commemorative walks have taken place, and there are art events planned as well. We intend to have further public meetings at Carmarthen and Llandysul in the near future, so watch this space!
In the meantime, if you haven’t yet signed our petition, please visit our website www.trawslinkcymru.org and do so. You can also fill in a survey form to tell us how you would use a re-opened Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway.
Last but not least, thank you Transition Llambed for the inspiration and support!
Traws Link Cymru