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Current infrastructure is inadequate for an event like Eisteddfod, say rail link campaigners

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On the left, a Class 175 Transport for Wales train. On the right, the National Eisteddfod.

West Wales Railway campaigners point to the upcoming National Eisteddfod in Ceredigion as further evidence of the need to urgently restore the South Wales rail line to Aberystwyth.

Next Sunday the National Eisteddfod of Wales will open in the town of Tregaron in Ceredigion, two years later than originally planned due to the Covid pandemic.

Traws Link Cymru, the West Wales Rail Campaign group, says the current transport infrastructure is not adequate to cope with an event which is expected to bring large numbers of visitors to the area.

The group’s chairman, Professor Mike Walker, also pointed to the irony of the Maes’ proximity to the disused railway line and claimed it was a ‘tragedy’ that the rail infrastructure to transport visitors to the event is not in place.

He added that the restoration of the railway line would be a major boost to the economic development of the West Wales region, providing new forms of employment and retaining young people in the region, and strengthening the Welsh language and culture.

Important issues

Referring to the upcoming event, Prof Walker said: “We would like to take this opportunity to send our best wishes to the Eisteddfod Organizing Committee and to all those taking part and competing in the country’s premier cultural event.

“However, in terms of local transport infrastructure, there are significant issues that need to be addressed, particularly with regard to the adequacy of local road transport infrastructure in central Ceredigion and its ability to cope in an event that will bring tens of thousands of visitors to the town of Tregaron and its surroundings.

“There is no road access to the town, and a shuttle service is to be provided by a company based in North Wales who were responsible for a similar operation during the 2019 National Eisteddfod held in Llanrwst.

“We are encouraged by the Welsh Government’s new national transport delivery plan, which includes a commitment to develop the case for a railway from South Wales to Aberystwyth by 2025-2027.

“Indeed, the Tregaron National Eisteddfod underscores beyond reasonable doubt the urgent need for restoration of this strategic north-south rail corridor.”

Delegate more powers

Earlier this week the Welsh Government announced its National Transport Delivery Plan 2022, which includes a list of ongoing projects, with plans to develop the railway case to Aberystwyth by 2025 and outline the design of 2027, although the document admits that the planning phase may well go “beyond” this point.

The plan states: “TfW is developing general plans to improve sustainable transport along the travel corridors on the west coast of Wales.

“As part of this work, they will identify any potential routes that will need to be set aside for potential future development.”

The transport plan also sets out the ambition to shift people from car use to public transport use and active travel where possible, and to delegate more authority over transport in the Land of Wales, including rail infrastructure.

Traws Link Cymru was formed in 2013 with the aim of restoring the railway lines between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen, and Afon Wen to Bangor, both of which were closed to passengers in the 1960s Beeching Cuts.

Last year the Welsh Government published a map this hinted that a north-south railway might be in sight, but nothing has been confirmed so far.

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