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Railwatch 072 - July 1997

Mid Wales

By Chris Magner

We have our suspicions Problems with Barmouth Bridge have delayed the return of freight and excursion traffic to the Cambrian Lines. Railtrack says it has found that £900,000 will have to be spent on it in addition to the £2 million already committed to a scheme to upgrade bridges along the entire route to clear the way for locomotive-hauled trains. The bridge will have to be closed for repair work at some time this year, which will almost certainly prevent excursions being run to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Barmouth-Pwllheli line's opening. All RDS members should do their best to discover what exactly is going on. We are suspicious because problems were suddenly found with Barmouth Bridge in 1980 just before the Euston to Pwllheli train was about to start running.

New challenge RDS is campaigning to have the 70mph speed limit on the Shrewsbury-Chester line raised by at least 5mph. Central Trains have no immediate plans to improve speeds even though road improvements may be a threat to its revenue.

Progress The private ticket office at Gobowen station  - run by Severn Dee Travel - has clocked up receipts of £1 million in less than four years. BR closed the booking office in 1992. The public address system is to be extended to the unstaffed stations of Chirk and Ruabon.

Potential realised Work is continuing on improving Heart of Wales line stations. Many extra loco-hauled trains are running to Llandrindod Wells at weekends as the excursion potential is realised. During Easter weekend, freight trains - in the shape of double-headed class 56 steel trains - were run over the line because of road works at Bridgend. Class 158 Express trains also ran through on empty stock workings to Cardiff.

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