The whole Coast Line northwards from Machynlleth was closed owing to storm damage sustained over the Christmas period. This was in addition to the closure of Pont Briwet, North of Harlech, for a complete renewal of the structure.
The extent of the damage has been much greater than that at Dawlish, on the Great Western main line to Plymouth, though this has not been as widely reported. The photo below shows the state of the railway just north of Barmouth not long after the storm. Even National Coal Board track was never this bad!
A truly astonishing amount of work has been done by Network Rail to restore the railway and our sincere thanks are due to their "Orange Army" for all their hard work in wintry weather conditions.The line to Harlech has now reopened and Coast Line trains are terminating there, with a replacement bus service onwards to and from Pwllheli. We have written and asked the Welsh Government for clarification as to when the route will reopen in full.
Dovey Junction and The Dyfi Osprey Project
Once again this year the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust are opening the Dyfi Osprey Project site,
near Derwenlas on the A487 road between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth. However, a new three-story
observation building was built during the winter, and it opened at Easter. It affords much closer views of the
ospreys than the existing building, which is close to the road. Although close to the railway, only the
down end of the Aberystwyth line platform is visible; conversely the building is hard to see from the
At the time of writing, last year's pair of ospreys, Monty and Glesni, are back in residence. To learn more, including live camera feeds from the nest, take a look at the project website, or look at their Facebook page.
|LNER No. 4494 hunting for Dogfish perhaps? A view taken from the live camera at the nest, as a Network Rail ballast train rolls by.
The scheme to construct a lift to assist disabled access between the platforms has run into problems. The Department for Transport announced under its "Access for All" scheme funding of
£1 million to construct a lift and footbridge between the 2 platforms. We understand that TraCC has not thus far been able to find the match funding required. TraCC itself is now history owing to changes made by the Welsh Government.
We understand that the Station Action Group continues to make slow progress against all the hurdles placed in their way. They have recently been discussing the future of the level crossing at the site of the station with Network Rail.
Powys County Council is pressing ahead with plans to apply to the Welsh Government for a grant to redevelop
the bus station on its existing site. Where this leaves bus/rail integration remains unclear and also
where the buses to serve it will come from. Having cut support to around half the bus routes in the
county in 2013, a further package of cuts has been proposed on the bus support grant but without
any detail on where the axe will fall. Public transport by bus in the county may soon become a trip
into a market town for school/college time and a trip back when school/college finishes.
In recent weeks there has been extensive work carried out by Network Rail on the western end of the Forden Dynamic Loop. Work has also commenced on removing the level crossing at the site of Forden station, with a replacement diversionary road being built to a nearby overbridge.
We have heard that Buttington-Trewern School have teamed up with Arriva Trains Wales to provide floral decoration at the station. Arriva are going to provide planters for the project.
Concern has been expressed at the lack of additional parking space for rail passengers arriving by car, which could become acute when the service frequency is enhanced next year. Additional space could be made available on the east side of the station, although where the funding to convert it into car park space will come from is not clear.
Members of the local agricultural community have become concerned about the prospect of an hourly
service claiming that they need half an hour at a time to get cattle across User Worked Crossings
(UWC), and they will no longer have the time with more trains running. Their claims have been met
with some scepticism from within railway sources, who point to other areas of the UK with double track
and even more frequent services that seemingly have no issues with live stock crossing. It has been
suggested that the farmers are primarily looking for compensation and it has pointed out that north
of Welshpool to Buttington Junction up until 1965 there were close on 50 train movements a day on
summer Saturdays. As far as we are aware, there is no record of any livestock crossing problems.
The embankment on the east side of the line just south of Cilcewydd Mill has needed stabilisation
work, as the relaying of the DOWN line onto the abandoned side of the formation has proved
Buttington Crossing Collision
The report on the accident has recently been released; it can be accessed online by clicking here.
Work has still not finished on the undersides of the bridge over the river Severn, with contractors
equipment and screens still evident in mid April. The work has meant that the freight avoiding lines
have not been used, and a large gouge has been created in Platform 3. Despite the completion of the
new customer assistance/dispatch office and new waiting room area, some areas in the station environs still present
a scruffy, unkempt appearance, with the state of the area between the tracks and the footbridge to the
Dana of particular concern.
It's those London trains again - seemingly bowing to political pressure two paths have been found
for Virgin Trains as extensions of existing Euston to Birmingham/Wolverhampton trains. Provisional
departure times from Shrewsbury are given as 0639 and 1524 for commencement in December 2014,
neither of which will connect with Cambrian trains.
Birmingham New Street
Passengers using Birmingham New Street will note that progress continues on the massive rebuilding project at the station, with large areas where work continues being panelled off.
We understand that there are also proposals for a moving "travelator" which will operate between New St and Moor St stations.
You can find out more about the project by visiting www.newstreetnewstart.co.uk
Network Rail have kindly allowed us to use the pictures below, which give an artists impression of the rebuilt station. The webmaster rather feels that the striking atrium feature would be further enhanced by some large plant life. An opportunity for Birmingham Botanical Gardens perhaps?
|The station will feature a large atrium over the ticket hall and concourse. A great improvement.
|Flashback to 2006. Former GWR King Class 4-6-0 No 6024 at Shrewsbury with a special in May of that year.|
At the eastern end of the Cambrian line, steam traction will appear at Shrewsbury on 20th September, when GWR Castle Class 5043 will pass through on the Severn Bridge Junction Triangle.
Full details of all steam traction on the main line can be found at http://www.uksteam.info/tours/trs14.htm