|Status||mostly disused; some reused by Gwili Railway|
|Opened||1860 (Carmarthen to Cynwyl Elfed)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Old gauge||7 ft (2,134 mm) (Carmarthen to Llandyssul)|
It is now also a proposed railway link from Carmarthen railway station to Aberystwyth railway station, with five new proposed stations at Llanilar, Tregaron, Lampeter, Llanybydder and Pencader, with an estimated cost between £505 million and £700 million.
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 in February 1965. Freight traffic from Pont Llanio creamery (near Tregaron) to Aberaeron Junction (near Lampeter) ended in 1970; that from Green Grove siding (between Aberaeron and Lampeter) and from Newcastle Emlyn to Carmarthen ended in September 1973. The track was lifted in 1975, except for a short section at Bronwydd Arms station which was to be used by the Gwili Railway Preservation Society for its heritage train operation.
- 1 History
- 2 Current status
- 3 Stations
- 4 Reopening
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway
The first section of line between Carmarthen and Conwil was opened in 1860 by the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway. This was extended by the original company to Llandyssul and eventually to Newcastle Emlyn, by the GWR in the 1890s, but never reached Cardigan. The section from Carmarthen to Llandyssul was built as a broad-gauge route, with a third standard-gauge line added as far as Pencader Junction later, after the M&MR line was built.
Manchester and Milford Railway
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."
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. 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. 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.
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, as part of a nationwide process of railway closures and system rationalisation in the wake of the Beeching Report (see Beeching Cuts). Goods traffic continued in the form of milk trains from Carmarthen to Pont Llanio (between Lampeter and 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.
The line was extended farther up the valley to Llwyfan Cerrig in 1987, crossing the River Gwili en route, and a further half a mile to Danycoed Halt in 2001. Since then (with the completion of the preserved line's southern extension to Abergwili in July 2017), over four miles of track have been restored, and the Gwili Railway currently runs from a new station called Abergwili Junction to Danycoed Halt.
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.
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:
- Llanrhystyd Road (TBA)
- Llanilar station platforms – with remains of GWR fencing. The waiting room was removed to nearby Plas Llidiarddau where it is used for garden storage. Much has been replaced but the fundamental structure is well maintained. (In private ownership).
- Felindyffryn (TBA)
- Trawscoed station, in a ruined state
- Caradog Falls Halt, intact but surrounded by private property
- Strata Florida signal box, under restoration by enthusiasts.
- Alltddu Halt.
- Tregaron station shelter, adjacent to Tregaron hospital, is now a viewing shelter for the Tregaron Horse Club; also, a GWR pagoda shelter remains on a farm near Tregaron High School.
- Pont Llanio: A GWR 1930s cast-iron water-tower is located next to the road bridge and the site of a former creamery
- Olmarch Halt: Parts of the GWR halt platform remain under a minor road bridge east of the A485 road.
- Llangybi: A road overbridge crosses the line.
- Derry Ormond station building and platforms remain at the end of a narrow road from the village of Betws Bledrws— one of only two station buildings surviving on the line.
- Lampeter goods shed—the only surviving railway related building in Lampeter. A large steel and concrete bridge across the River Teifi remains, adjacent to the A482 road south of Lampeter.
- Llanybydder Llanybydder railway station is now the village rugby club. A road bridge also crosses the old line.
- Maesycrugiau (TBA)
- Bryn Teifi Bryn Teifi tunnel and platform were made accessible to the public in spring 2014.
- Pencader: A steel overbridge remains over the road between Pencader and Llandysul
- Pencader Tunnel – The southern portal remains accessible from a forestry plantation road which joins a minor road between Pencader and Llanpumpsaint.
- Llanpumpsaint: An overbridge remains over the road through the village.
- Cynwyl Elfed station platforms and some rolling stock are owned by the Gwili Railway.
Named from north to south, unless otherwise stated:
Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway
- Newcastle Emlyn
- Pentrecourt platform
- Pencader – junction with Manchester and Milford Railway
- Cynwyl Elfed
- Llwyfan Cerrig
- Carmarthen – junction with South Wales Railway, still open
Manchester and Milford Railway
- Aberystwyth – owned by the Cambrian Railways, junction with Vale of Rheidol Railway, still open
- Llanrhystyd Road
- Strata Florida Location of proposed triangle for northern route to Llangurig
- Alltddu Later site of a small GWR halt
- Pont Llanio Site of the now closed Milk Creamery that would keep the line open north of Lampeter until 1970 – located near to village of Llanddewi-Brefi
- Olmarch Halt Later site of a small GWR halt
- Llangybi Small halt located between two road bridges
- Derry Ormond railway station Near to village of Betws Bledrws
- Lampeter Junction station for the Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway
- Bryn Teifi formerly New Quay Road
- Pencader – junction with Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway
Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway
- Llanerch Aeron Halt: Location of junction of proposed branch to New Quay
- Crossways Halt
- Ciliau Aeron Halt
- Felin Fach (near Ystrad Aeron): Later site of the Green Grove creamery that would keep the line open for freight only until 1973. The station building has been moved to Llwynfan Cerrig, Gwili Railway
- Talsarn Halt
- Blaenplwyf Halt: Summit of the line
- Silian Halt
- Aberaeron Junction
- Oakford: Proposed intermediate station
- Llanarth: Summit of the proposed line
- Gilfachreda: Proposed Intermediate Station
- New Quay: Terminus of the proposed line
Official talks of reopening started in 2014, when First Minister Carwyn Jones shared his support towards the reopening, and it was adopted as an official policy of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The next two years were followed by support from Carmarthenshire County Council, Ceredigion County Council, the Minister for Science, Economy and Transport (Welsh Government) and Plaid Cymru. Official talks and meeting included Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales and James Price, Director General, Economy, Science and Transport (Welsh Government) shortly followed by the AECOM report. There have been several support, funding and help pledges.
In October 2016, the Welsh government announced it would be allocating £300,000 towards funding a feasibility report into re-opening the railway as part of the draft 2017–18 budget. The study is being carried out by engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald and began in September 2017.
- (Context of) Thomas Edward Owen (Manchester and Milford Railway) Papers at Archives Wales, National Library of Wales
- Pontrhydfendigaid An archival site about the subject district
- Railways that never were Discussion at Google Group UK Railway, January 2007
- Gwili Steam Railway: History at Gwili Steam Railway Company (a community-supported commercial enterprise)
- Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway at Railscot, railbrit.co.uk
- Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway at Railscot, railbrit.co.uk
- First Minister Shows his support
- Welsh Lib Dems Signal Support for Reopening
- Plaid Cymru Support – note the 5th paragraph down
- AECOM Report
- "Carmarthen to Aberystwyth rail links a step closer after funding pledge". South Wales Evening Post. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
- "Aberystwyth-Carmarthen railway feasibility study to begin next month". Cambrian News. Retrieved 12 September 2017.