Rail to Gwaun Cae Gurwen ... trying to find a silver lining

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Rail to Gwaun Cae Gurwen ... trying to find a silver lining

Post  MH on Mon 12 Jan 2009 - 22:35

In the news today are a couple of stories about reopening the 11km stretch of railway line from Gwaun Cae Gurwen to Pantyffynnon, just south of Ammanford, to carry coal from the newly reopened East Pit.

BBC Cymru website
South Wales Guardian

I have very mixed feelings about this:

1. Burning coal is the most environmentally damaging way of generating electricity; one we should be phasing out, rather than expanding. For the people of the area around East Pit, there will be even greater environmental damage, not least noise and dust.

2. But on the other hand it will create some much needed jobs, and some concessions have been made to address environmental concerns. The most important of these is that 50% of the coal will be transported by rail, hence the new service. However it seems valid to ask the question why it should only be 50%. I hope that once the service has overcome any teething problems the number of trains can be increased. I can't see any reason why all of it is not transported by rail. We are talking about moving 2,000,000 tonnes of coal in seven years, it is ludicrous to transport any of this by road when a viable railway aleady exists.

3. I can also take some comfort from the fact that the anticipated life is only six or seven years, and that there is a commitment to remedial landscape works afterwards.


However the point of writing this is to highlight the possibilities for using the line to carry passengers as well as freight. This would be in line with similar schemes such as Ebbw Vale. There could be stations on the south side of Ammanford, Pontaman, Glanaman, Garnant and Gwaun Cae Gurwen ... and after the mining operations were finished the line could be extended across the old workings to follow the course of the dismantled railway through Brynaman, Cwnllynfell and Cwm Twrch Uchaf, and on to join the Swansea Valley.

By doing this the community would gain a long term benefit that would last much longer than seven years of mining coal.
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Re: Rail to Gwaun Cae Gurwen ... trying to find a silver lining

Post  MH on Fri 16 Jan 2009 - 23:32

There was a video report on the BBC showing the train up and running, and a short interview with Mike Smith of the Amman Valley Railway Society.



BBC, 16 Jan 2009

The AVRS have high hopes that a regular daily passenger service can be restored to the line, and I wish them every success in lobbying for this. Their website is here:

Amman Valley Railway Society

I've also done a quick overlay of the route to help describe what I meant about extending the line after the workings have reached the end of their useful life.




The right hand side of the image will be truncated, click to open the complete version.
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