Aberystwyth to Cardiff
I read with interest David Henshaw’s positive views on the potential to reopen the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line ( Open Access, RAIL 842).
My belief is that the present thinking of connectivity must not be occluded by the approach of many who assume the criteria used by Beeching/Marples et al still applies. The days of the dreadful service offering - three trains a day taking almost three hours to travel between Aberystwyth only as far as Carmarthen - are long gone!
Aberystwyth needs a fast and modern link to the Welsh capital, and thus any new service must enable a 2hr 50-minute journey time to and from Cardiff to be competitive and attractive.
While there is bound to be a wish to serve Swansea, this may need to be eschewed in favour of a direct two-hourly service via Carmarthen and the Swansea District line to Cardiff, achieving sustainable timings.
Use of refurbished Class 158 units to complement those used on the existing ERTMS-signalled Cambrian route, together with improved access to Machynlleth and Cardiff Canton depots for periodic maintenance, would make sense and reduce capital cost of stock provision.
It must be acknowledged that the section between Carmarthen and Llanpumpsaint would be the most challenging in civil engineering terms to achieve the desired timings, due to the topography of the Gwili valley. North of that point, via Strata Florida would enable similar speeds to those now achieved on the Shrewsbury route.
It is to be hoped that the exercise undertaken on behalf of the Welsh Government by Mott McDonald will be examined positively by Transport for Wales, and take a similar approach to that for the Borders route in Scotland.
To restore a viable and socially desirable transport option for Cardigan and Carmarthenshire, to provide that vital public transport connection from Aberystwyth to Cardiff, must be the goal. David Mathew, Penarth