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Fresh support for calls to reopen town's rail station

By Carmarthen Journal  |  Posted: January 25, 2012

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CALLS to reopen the railway station at St Clears have gained fresh political backing.

The town lost its station in June 1964 as part of the rail rationalisation programme.

Calls for its reopening have been made by the local railway committee for more than 20 years.

The town council has also been backing calls to reopen the station, which it is hoped would serve as a hub for up to 10,000 people from the area.

Back in 2009, members of the town council raised the issue.

St Clears councillor Tom Brown said: "Everybody knows St Clears is right in the middle of a tourist area. If they can't stop in St Clears, then St Clears is missing out.

"It's imperative that this station reopens. Once that happens things can move forward."

The calls were also backed by a then-15-year-old GCSE student who set up a page on social networking website Facebook calling for the station to be reopened.

That electronic campaign attracted hundreds of supporters, with more than 600 signed up in the first 10 days.

The creator of the Facebook campaign, St Clears student Lloyd Rees said: "I think everyone in St Clears needs to get together and petition publicly for it. I've never done anything with the council, but I want to help them."

The calls have now been backed by Mid and West Wales Assembly Member William Powell, who has called on the Welsh Government to investigate funding sources from the European Union to support projects like the reopening of St Clears' station.

He said: "European Union funds play a vital role in the West Wales economy, and I have called on the Minister for Local Government and Communities to proactively seek out funding opportunities for key rural regeneration projects such as the reopening of railway stations across rural Wales.

"Projects like St Clears, have the potential to provide a massive positive impact on their surrounding communities. Not only can they reduce the stress and pressures of commuting, but they are able to stimulate much-needed rural regeneration."

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  • montessorial  |  January 26 2013, 11:19AM

    There are renewed calls to reopen St Clear's railway station. The issue has been largely ignored since 1973 when the last feasibility study was produced. Since that time heavy industry has moved into the area around the former station and along Station Road. The conditions of the pavements and roads have deteriorated and the land where the former station existed has been developed. Some of the old railway buildings survive including the Stationmaster's house. The station opened on 2nd January 1854. A beautiful building designed by Isimbard Kingdom Brunel. The station closed on 15 June 1964. An attempt to reopen the station in 1973 was made by five local authorities and organisations, together with the Department of the Environment, which jointly agreed to fund construction of a new station at a total cost of £5,400 (or £18,791 as of 2013. The new station would consist of concrete platforms adjoining both tracks and timber waiting shelters provided with electric lighting. It had been hoped that works would be swiftly completed so that the first trains could call at St Clears by the end of summer 1973, but this did not materialise. Mrs. Stella Griffiths remembers a very lively meeting taking place at Ysgol Griffith Jones where support for reopening the station was evident. Local man Lloyd Rees started a Facebook campaign to reopen the station. The campaign drew in thousands of supporters. The St Clears Times ran a community poll from 2010 and 95% of people who voted were in favour of opening the station. Retired stationmaster and former resident at the stationmaster's house Mr. Frank Willey paid a visit to the station in 2010. He took a good look at the area and concluded that a station would not work in that location any more. There are arguments for and against the station, which have not been explored fully. If one looks at the minutes of the St Clears Town Council the reopening has not featured highly in their discussions since 2009 when the then mayor Tom Brown said: "There was a lot of controversy about why it was closed - it was a very busy station and should not have been." He said the catchment area included tourist destinations such as Laugharne and Pendine and said he was certain there would be demand. "We are progressing steadily but trying to open station that's closed for so long is extremely difficult. We are very hopeful though," he said. St Clears itself is in the same position as many local towns in Wales and is suffering from the economic downturn. Whitland is a near neighbour equipped with a railway station and that has not had a significant impact on visitor numbers. In 2009 Llanboidy councillor Roy Llewellyn warned: "Whitland is almost a ghost town." He added: "It will be too late when they've closed everything down." Trelech councillor Dai Thomas said: "Over a long period of time, since the milk factory closed, there have been job losses. I don't know how long Whitland can go on like this." St Clears Town Councillor Huw Eynon uttered similar comments when he implied St Clears is dying town with a priest waiting in the room next door. St Clears has suffered through a lack of investment in the infrastructure of the town. The area around Station Road is in a poor condition with pavement and roads buckling under heavy traffic. The station is quite some way out of the town so anyone wishing to alight has a very long walk along treacherous pavements and in some parts there is no pavement at all. St Clears has also seem many feasibility studies costing thousands of pounds. A feasibility study was carried out on the riverside in St Clears costing thousands of pounds. Nothing has ever materialised. The town may benefit from a station but it needs massive investment in the community as the first priority. To date any investment has gone to help local businesses, which coincidentally are predominantly owned by councillors.