Beeching tried his best to decimate the rail infrastructure in Wales, yet we’re fortunate that this Constituency continues to be served by two railways, and the north Wales and mid Wales lines offers important economic opportunities as well. The UK is the only State in Europe that separates freight from public transport. This is the result of the privatisation of the Railways that happened in the 1980s.
Developing the ability to carry freight along our railways would give business the confidence they need to open bases in Gwynedd, while also giving an economic boost to local haulage and road freight firms, such as Hughes of Ffestiniog and OJ Jones, Porthmadog.
There have already been calls to increase the load capacity on the Ffestiniog line. Several reports have been published referencing the potential advantages. More research must be carried out to look at the capacity and load ability of both the Pwllheli and Ffestiniog lines – they both pose problems because of geographic and structural issues. I would call for a feasibility into both lines to see what the economic benefits or negatives would be.
But what should be pushed without doubt is the development of Intermodal Terminals at Bangor and/or Llandudno Junction on the north coast line, and Caersws on the Cambrian line. These have the potential to develop a freight service (called ‘intermodal terminals’ or ‘Trans-shipment Terminals’ – when road freight meets rail freight).
Such developments are usually market led, but by pump-priming with public funds, this would give confidence to the market creating a positive environment for private firms to invest.
Not only would this open access to more of the UK market, but it would also allow access to the European Market, because of the direct access to the trans-continental land bridging route of Ireland-the Channel Tunnel.
Added to this, developing such intermodal terminals would create direct jobs on site, and be a valuable addition in our fight against climate change, with more products being carried via the more environmentally friendly rail.