Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line

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Carmarthen-Aberystwyth line
Aberystwyth
Cambrian Line to
Machynlleth and Shrewsbury
Vale of Rheidol Railway
(Narrow Gauge)
Llanrhystyd Road
Mid Wales line to Shrewsbury
Llanilar
and eventually Manchester
Felindyffryn Halt
Llanidloes
Trawscoed
Mid Wales line to Builth
Caradog Falls Halt
Llangurig branch
(never saw use)
unbuilt connection
(15 miles)
Strata Florida (Ystrad Fflur)
Alltddu Halt
Tregaron
Pont Llanio
Olmarch Halt
Llangybi
Derry Ormond
Aberayron branch
Lampeter
Llanybyther
Newcastle Emlyn
Maesycrugiau
Teifi Valley Railway
Bryn Teifi
Henllan
Pentrecourt platform
Llandysul
Teifi Valley route
diverges west
Pencader
Pencader Tunnel (985 yards)
Llanpumsaint
Cynwyl Elfed
Danycoed Halt
Llwyfan Cerrig
Gwili Railway
Bronwydd Arms
Route to Heart of Wales Line
Carmarthen Town
Carmarthen
West Wales Line

The Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line was a 4 ft 8½-in (1,435-mm) standard-gauge branch line of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in Wales, connecting Carmarthen and Aberystwyth.

At Carmarthen, the line connected with the GWR mainline from London Paddington to Fishguard. At Aberystwyth, the line connected with the Cambrian Line. The line also had connecting branches to Aberaeron, Llandeilo and Newcastle Emlyn.

As a result of floods and the Beeching Axe, the line was entirely closed to passengers from 1965. Freight transport from Pont Llanio creamery (near Tregaron) to Aberaeron Junction (near Lampeter) ended in 1970; that from Aberaeron and the Newcastle Emlyn branch to Carmarthen ended in September 1973.

History[edit]

Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway[edit]

The first section of line between Carmarthen and Conwil was opened in 1860 by the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway. This ran from Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn, never reaching Cardigan. The line was built as a broad-gauge route, with a third standard-gauge line added later, after the M&MR line was built.

Manchester and Milford Railway[edit]

The Manchester and Milford Railway was an ambitious proposal to connect Manchester and the industrialised Midlands and Northwest England with the docks at Milford Haven. This was a standard gauge line using the LNWR and Midland Railway metals (the M&MR would have connected with the Mid-Wales Railway at Llanidloes) and then, via a junction at Strata Florida, with the C&CR at Pencader. Trains would then have run on the C&CR to Carmarthen before connecting to the Pembroke and Tenby Railway for connection to the deepwater port at Milford Haven. The plan was that, combined with industrial traffic from South Wales, Milford Haven could "provide the Lancashire cotton industry with [an] alternative port to Liverpool."[1][2]

The Llangurig branch as built

The scheme ran into financial difficulties. The simplest section had been constructed first which meant that it faced undertaking the toughest engineering challenge - the line between Llanidloes and Strata Florida - when the money was running out. Though it started on the Llangurig branch, diverging from the Mid-Wales Railway at Penpontbren Junction, and got as far as Llangurig, it was decided, in 1865, instead to simply divert the Lampeter route to Aberystwyth rather than build it through the mountains, abandoning the hope for a strategic route. It has been suggested that the bankruptcy of Thomas Savin, renowned Welsh railway engineer and investor, in the 1860s, may have been partly involved as it was with the failure of several other Welsh railway projects.[citation needed][3] It opened this modified through line in 1867 and remained independent until taken over by the Great Western Railway by 1911.

The initial 1861 route survey (which had parliamentary approval) and a later 1864 route were locally controversial.[2] The unbuilt section between Strata Florida and the railhead of the Llangurig branch would have been through very mountainous terrain, although only 15 miles (24 km) in length as the crow flies.

Closure[edit]

The line closed in two stages - the northern section closed prematurely in December 1964 when a section of the line one mile east of Llanilar was damaged by floods from the adjacent River Ystwyth. The remaining southern section closed to passengers in February 1965. Goods traffic continued in the form of milk trains from Carmarthen to Pont Llanio (just south of Tregaron) and the Felin Fach creamery (on the Aberaeron branch line) using Class 35 Hymek haulage until 1970, and with Class 37 haulage until the line closure in 1973.

Current status[edit]

Disused railway bridge over the River Gwili on the former Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line

In 1974, the Gwili Railway was founded and, in 1978, began operating a service over several miles of the line from Bronwydd Arms, north of Carmarthen. The company intends to restore services between Abergwili Junction and Llanpumsaint.[4]

In the north, parts of the trackbed from Aberystwyth to Trawsgoed, plus Ystrad Meurig via the Strata Florida station site to just south of the former Allt-ddu halt on Tregaron Bog (adjacent to the B4343 road) have been incorporated into the Ystwyth Trail cycle route. However, the section of trackbed from Trawsgoed station to just south of Ystrad Meurig including the tunnel adjacent to the former Caradog Falls halt is unavailable, being mostly in private ownership. On the Ystwyth Trail eastward from Llanilar to Trawsgoed, the flooding damage which caused closure of the line in December 1964 can be seen.

During the mid-1990s, a narrow-gauge railway was unsuccessfully proposed by the Ystwyth Valley Preservation Society—based on reopening a section of route from Llanilar to Llanfarian. Some items of standard-gauge rolling stock were moved into Llanilar station yard at the time - including an LNER compartment coach plus some 4-wheel tank wagons.

The Traws Link Cymru group formed in February 2014 supports the reopening of the line. An E-Petition has also been launched to ask the Welsh Assembly to consider reopening the Carmarthen - Aberystwyth line.

Quantities of trackbed and bridge abutments remain along the route, although some parts have been farmed over. Other surviving remains include, from north to south:

Stations[edit]

Named from north to south, unless otherwise stated:[5]

Bryn Teifi station in 1962

Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway[edit]

Manchester and Milford Railway[edit]

Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway[edit]

Constructed[6][edit]

Proposed[edit]

  • Aberaeron Junction
  • Oakford: Proposed intermediate station
  • Llanarth: Summit of the proposed line
  • Gilfachreda: Proposed Intermediate Station
  • New Quay: Terminus of the proposed line

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Context of) Thomas Edward Owen (Manchester and Milford Railway) Papers at Archives Wales, National Library of Wales
  2. ^ a b Pontrhydfendigaid An archival site about the subject district
  3. ^ Railways that never were Discussion at Google Group UK Railway, January 2007
  4. ^ Gwili Steam Railway: History at Gwili Steam Railway Company (a community-supported commercial enterprise)
  5. ^ Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway at Railscot, railbrit.co.uk
  6. ^ Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway at Railscot, railbrit.co.uk

External links[edit]