NEW CAMBRIAN STATION IS ONE OF FOUR IN WALES
A SECOND station may be reopened on the Cambrian main line, after the Welsh Government chose Carno as one of four proposed station schemes for Stage 3 assessment. The other schemes are Ely Mill (on Cardiff’s City line), St Clears (west of Carmarthen) and Deeside Industrial Park (on the Wrexham to Bidston line north of Hawarden Bridge).
The four were on a shortlist of 12 that originally included Bow Street, between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth. Bow Street was awarded funding from the Department for Transport’s New Stations Fund and is due to open next year. It was replaced in the shortlist by Carno, ensuring the list represented each Welsh region.
An appraisal by Network Rail says the station would close a ‘geographical gap’ on the Cambrian line. There is currently no station on the 22-mile stretch between Machynlleth and Caersws.
The line is single track, making Carno one of the cheapest of the shortlisted stations to construct.
However, Network Rail says a study is needed of the timetabling impact of trains calling at Carno as well as Bow Street: ‘Previous Network Rail feedback to Welsh Government has indicated that it would be very difficult to serve two new stations on the route without significant intervention… in view of the turn round times at Aberystwyth… without severely impacting passenger train punctuality’.
Suggested infrastructure work includes linespeed improvements, partial redoubling and/or extending crossing loops. However, new trains which have been ordered for the Cambrian lines could obviate some of the work if they significantly outperform the current Class 158 units.
CHOICES AROUND THE COUNTRY
St Clears station would also close a rural ‘geographical gap’. Land purchase would be required, the previous station’s location having been sold. Closure of the level crossing in the village could be required, depending on proximity to the chosen station site. The Deeside Industrial Park station, alternatively known as Deeside Parkway or Northern Gateway, might replace little-used Hawarden Bridge, which many services omit. It is expected to reduce traffic on congested roads by providing access to the current industrial park and Northern Gateway development site. It could also provide a park and ride facility for the Wrexham – Bidston line, which has relatively limited station parking facilities.
The line’s current hourly service has tight turnaround times, and Network Rail has suggested that infrastructure interventions may be needed for all trains to call at the new station. The line is due to gain a half-hourly service in December 2021, which Network Rail says would enable some services to skip stops to meet the line’s performance challenge. The line’s user group believes skipping stops will be unnecessary because Class 230 hybrid units (diesel and battery), which are due to replace Class 150 Sprinters, will have better acceleration and braking.
Ely Mill station would be near where the City line (Cardiff Central to Radyr via Fairwater) passes over the South Wales main line.
Platforms would be on the City line only, serving existing housing and new housing on the site of a paper mill. Significant earthworks could be required, since the railway is on an embankment. The line is due to convert to tram-train operation by December 2022. Rhodri Clark