COUNCIL bosses have thrown their support behind a proposal to operate five trains a day between Carmarthen and London.
Carmarthenshire County Council says it is fully supportive of the Grand Union Trains proposal to operate a new intercity train service between Carmarthen and London Paddington, with five return services every day.
The application, that has been submitted by Grand Union Trains (GUT) is currently being considered by the Office of Rail and Road ORR.
The application includes a commitment to build a new ‘parkway’ station at Felindre, north of Swansea, which will reduce journey times from Carmarthen and Llanelli to Cardiff and onto London by around 20 minutes. Services will be operated by brand new bi-mode trains which can operate as electric or diesel.
The proposal for a high-quality train service, with a 20-minute reduction in journey time between Carmarthen and Cardiff, provides an important opportunity to deliver change people’s travelling habits, as the journey time improvement will make a rail journey from Carmarthen to Cardiff and onto London, competitive with a car journey.
Campaigners from Traws Link Cymru, who are calling for the reintroduction of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line welcomed the plans, saying: “Another compelling reason why the Aberystwyth - Carmarthen line should be reinstated, it’s not just about local travel but strategic regional connectivity to longer-distance inter-city destinations.”
Improving the train service to and from Carmarthenshire would also complement the authority’s major development projects, such as the Swansea Bay City Deal, which is being developed with regional colleagues and will provide an economic boost of at least £1.8 billion to the Southwest Wales region, creating 9,000 new jobs.
Canolfan Yr Egin in Carmarthen, which is now home to S4C’s headquarters would also benefit from the improved rail links.
‘Pentre Awel’, is another major development within the county and is already underway. This will see life science innovation, community healthcare and modern leisure facilities located at South Llanelli, a few hundred meters from Llanelli Railway Station. The project will create 1,800 jobs and boost the local economy by over £467m.
Cllr Darren Price, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council said: “I, along with the Cabinet Member for Transport, Edward Thomas, have written to the Office of Rail and Road, confirming that Carmarthenshire County Council is fully supportive of the Grand Union Trains proposal.
“The Grand Union Trains Proposal for improved services providing better rail connectivity and journey times through to Carmarthen and West Wales, through external investment, is very welcome and if successful will provide Carmarthenshire residents with high-quality intercity rail services direct to London.
“It will make a rail journey competitive with the car thereby providing an opportunity for modal shift and reducing the impact of travel on climate change. Currently, many residents in Carmarthenshire drive to either Neath or Port Talbot in order to catch a train to Cardiff or London, which adds to traffic levels on the M4 around Swansea. We need to help people to move away from the car and onto rail.
“Carmarthenshire Council has always supported the case for improved connectivity and reduced rail journey times through use of the Swansea District Line. Delivering reduced journey times in this way will help secure economic and environmental benefits to Carmarthenshire and the rest of West Wales.”