September 25 2010

Long gone are those railway days when the children from Llanerchymedd used to ride outside the Amlwch train to the grammar school in Llangefni.

It’s also quite a long time since I saw Santa Claus ride into town on one of the very last trains from Amlwch to Llangefni Railway Station.

Mind you, it was a terrifying sight for a 5 year old to be confronted with Santa for the first time. I didn’t attend the present giving in the Institute because I was too frightened. Sometimes fantasy figures shouldn’t be met. They only disappoint.

Anglesey County Council has now cleared away one of the major obstacles to Santa’s return. The County Council's support for the project to open the line to Amlwch comes as delightful news for Anglesey Central Railway supporters.

I’m certain you’ll be thinking, “Why have councillors changed their mind from the decision in March 2007 to back a cycle/pedestrian/bridleway route between Amlwch and Llangefni?”

One significant reason is the World Heritage Site at Amlwch’s Parys Copper Mountain; site of the giant copper works on the mountain above the town. Add to this the attraction of proposed developments in Amlwch Port.

Copper Mountain has massive potential as a major tourist attraction on Anglesey. It is already a highly visited area of Anglesey and the attraction of a journey through the beautiful rural heart of the island on a steam train would be almost impossible atraction to miss.

With the serious challenges confronting the Island, the County Council has committed itself to the development of its outstanding tourist assets.

Walter Glyn Davies speaking on behalf of Anglesey Central Railway, emphasised that this change of mind by the County Council meant that they could now commence lease negotiations with Network Rail with confidence.

In the past, not having the local authority’s backing meant that it was essentially a pointless exercise for Network Rail to even enter into a conversation in the knowledge that Council backing was unlikely.

County Councillor Cliff Everett pointed out that, “We could even look at match-funding for work on the line from the Anglesey Charitable Trust (Shell Money).”

Further, the Welsh Assembly has already shown interest in developing this abandoned rail track with its consideration of opening up a commercial line between Llangefni and Bangor.

How much ‘politics’ was involved there is a moot point; however, other than money (probably CFAP) for a feasibility study, the Assembly would have little input other than encouragement.

Mind you, one could also point to politics once again as a Welsh Assembly Election is due in 2001.

Let us hope that the ambition and enthusiasm of Amlwch Port’s County Councillor, Mr Dylan Jones is realised. Councillor Jones said, “We have a sleeping giant in Amlwch and the railway line could open it up.

Although financing could be an issue, a challenge indeed, Planning permission shouldn’t necessarily be a problem, as it will continue to be what it always has been: a railway line.

I am certain that the members of Anglesey Central railway will already have been approached by councillors for Llanerchymedd, which used to have its own railway station.

Not much in Llanerchymedd really, but the smart cookies must surely be thinking about making it a pick-up/drop-off point for eager cyclists in the heart of the Island. Local retail outlets would surely benefit. It gets better the more one investigates the potential for this project.

BBC Wales Report on Amlwch-Llangefni Line.

What’s to the north of Llanerchymedd but the old Shell Site at Rhosgoch? A massive 200 acre site that is ripe for development. A spur line in the Rhosybol area could bring a rail line right into its heart.

You’ll remember that Rhosgoch had been considered as a potential location for Anglesey Prison following a Government search for new prison-build in 2009. Sadly that project fell away, despite strong lobbying by Anglesey County Council and the Island’s Member of Parliament, Mr Albert Owen.

All the above to one side, the line was last used commercially in 1993 by the Ethyl Octel bromide factory in Amlwch which is the only use it saw after Dr Beeching closed it in 1964.

Which brings me back to Santa’s last journey to Llangefni on the train from Amlwch. Let’s hope that he’ll be the first visitor.

I’ll attend the present-giving this time, though not in the Institute, because that’ll be converted to flats by then, very sadly.


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