Posted 24th January 2011 | 9 Comments
Network Rail warns of ‘tough’ Welsh reopening plan
A FEASIBILITY study into the prospect of restoring passenger services on part of a disused branch line on the Isle of Anglesey starts this week, but Network Rail has warned that bringing trains back will be ‘tough’.
The branch from Gaerwen Junction on the Holyhead line to Amlwch was closed to passenger traffic in December 1964, but remained in use for chemical freight from an Octel plant at Amlwch until 1993, when lorries replaced the trains. A final passenger charter ran at about the same time, but then the line was mothballed.
The new proposal is to restore the line from the main line junction at Gaerwen as far as Llangefni – a distance of some 7km.
Network Rail said it is working in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, which has commissioned the study, as well as the Isle of Anglesey County Council.
The line has become heavily overgrown in the past couple of decades, and some of this vegetation will be removed as part of the new study. Ecologists will then assess the natural environment which has developed along the route, so that any rare species can be identified and protected.
Meanwhile, engineers will be examining the track, 31 bridges and culverts and associated earthworks, and considering the feasibility of refurbishing the station building and platform at Llangefni.
Mike Gallop, who is the principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The Amlwch line has been disused for nearly two decades and bringing it back to passenger use will be tough. Today we are taking that first step, working together with the Welsh Assembly Government and the council, to see if it is possible to meet the aspiration of restoring services the line.
“For passenger trains to run on the line again, we may need to modernise the existing signalling system, repair and replace the disused track, bridges and culverts, which are no longer fit for purpose. The study will be vital to help us examine the feasibility and identify a cost-effective solution.”
The thinking behind the plan is to improve communications between the north eastern parts of Anglesey and the mainland, reducing the pressure on the road bridge across the Menai Strait.
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