At a cost of £40 million to Welsh taxpayers and travellers, next month will finally see the single track line between Swansea and Llanelli redoubled.
The project, jointly funded by Welsh Government and Network Rail (i.e. by us) corrects a historic mistake, a thirty-year old policy by Thatcher’s government (also taxpayer-funded in its day) to dismantle all but our highest-earning inter-city routes.
We can celebrate, but remembering to keep watch for latter-day ‘rationalisers’ – Network Rail is on record contemplating the singling of the Swansea District Line – which will now come into its own for the duration of these works.
From March 24th to April 6th, trains between Cardiff and west Wales will by-pass Swansea, using the Swansea District Line which normally only carries freight and the lunchtime Fishguard boat trains. See Arriva’s passenger information here. This may come as a welcome surprise for rail travellers to Carmarthen, Tenby and Haverfordwest, as the Swansea District Line is a far more direct route west, which of course was the point of building it a century ago. If the experience of a non-stop service between Port Talbot and Llanelli raises interest in the future of this line, that will be a real bonus.
Naturally most rail traffic will continue via Swansea in future, even with the additional passenger services on the SDL we hope for. A double track west from the city will remove a serious obstacle to growth, eliminate delays and the knock-on effect of delays, and allow increased reliability and timetable frequency of services on all three Pembrokeshire branches.
So there’s quite a lot to celebrate.