Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line

Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line
[v · Legend
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Cambrian Line to
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Machynlleth and Shrewsbury
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Vale of Rheidol Railway
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(Narrow Gauge)
Llanrhystyd Road
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Mid Wales line to Shrewsbury
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and eventually Manchester
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Mid Wales line to Builth
Caradog Falls Halt
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Llangurig branch line
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(never saw use)
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unbuilt connection (15 miles)
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Strata Florida (Ystrad Fflur)
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Alltddu Halt
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Port Llanio
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Olmarch Halt
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Derry Ormond
Aberayron branch
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Newcastle Emlyn
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Teifi Valley Railway
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Bryn Teifi
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Pentrecourt platform
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Teifi Valley route
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diverges west
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Pencader Tunnel (985 yards)
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Danycoed Halt
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Llwyfan Cerrig
Stop on track
Gwili Railway
Bronwydd Arms
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Route to Heart of Wales Line
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Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "ABZqlr" Continuation to right
West Wales Line

The Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line was a 4 ft 8½-in (1,435-mm) standard-gauge branch line of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in Wales, connecting Carmarthen and Aberystwyth.

At Carmarthen, the line connected with the GWR mainline from London Paddington to Fishguard. At Aberystwyth, the line connected with the Cambrian Line. The line also had connecting branches to Aberaeron, Llandeilo and Newcastle Emlyn.

As a result of floods and the Beeching Axe, the line was entirely closed to passengers from 1965. Freight transport from Pont Llanio creamery (near Tregaron) to Aberaeron Junction (near Lampeter) ended in 1970; that from Aberaeron and the Newcastle Emlyn branch to Carmarthen ended in September 1973.



Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway

The first section of line between Carmarthen and Conwil was opened in 1860 by the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway. This ran from Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn, never reaching Cardigan. The line was built as a broad-gauge route, with a third standard-gauge line added later, after the M&MR line was built.

Manchester and Milford Railway scheme

The M&MR was an ambitious proposal to connect Manchester and the industrialised Midlands and Northwest England with the docks at Milford Haven. This was a standard gauge line using the LNWR and Midland Railway metals (the M&MR would have connected with the Mid Wales Railway at Llanidloes) and then, via a junction at Strata Florida, with the C&CR at Pencader. Trains would then have run on the C&CR to Carmarthen before connecting to the Pembroke and Tenby Railway for connection to the deepwater port at Milford Haven. The plan was that, combined with industrial traffic from South Wales, Milford Haven could "provide the Lancashire cotton industry with [an] alternative port to Liverpool."[1][2]

The Llangurig branch line as built

The scheme ran into financial difficulties. The simplest section had been constructed first which meant that it faced undertaking the toughest engineering challenge - the line between Llanidloes and Strata Florida - when the money was running out. Though it started on the line from Llanidloes, diverging from the Mid Wales line at Penpontbren Junction, and got as far as Llangurig, it was decided, in 1865, instead to simply divert the Lampeter route to Aberystwyth rather than build it through the mountains, abandoning the hope for a strategic route. It has been suggested that the bankruptcy of Thomas Savin, renowned Welsh railway engineer and investor, in the 1860s, may have been partly involved as it was with the failure of several other Welsh railway projects.[3] It opened this modified through line in 1867 and remained independent until taken over by the Great Western Railway by 1911.

The initial 1861 route survey (which had parliamentary approval) and a later 1864 route were locally controversial.[2] The unbuilt section between Strata Florida and the railhead of the Llangurig branch would have been through very mountainous terrain, although only 15 miles (24 km) in length as the crow flies.


The line closed in two stages - the northern section closed prematurely in December 1964 when a section of the line one mile east of Llanilar was damaged by floods from the adjacent River Ystwyth. The remaining southern section closed to passengers in February 1965. Goods traffic continued from Carmarthen to Pont Llanio (just south of Tregaron) and the Felin Fach creamery (on the Aberaeron branch line) using Class 35 Hymek haulage until 1970 and with Class 37 haulage until 1973. The line was closed and decommissioned during the summer of 1975.

Current status

In 1974, the Gwili Railway was founded and, in 1978, began operating a service over several miles of the line from Bronwydd Arms, north of Carmarthen. The company intends to restore services between Abergwili Junction and Llanpumsaint.[4]

In the north, parts of the trackbed from Aberystwyth to Trawsgoed, plus Ystrad Meurig via the Strata Florida station site to just south of the former Allt-ddu halt on Tregaron Bog (adjacent to the B4343 road) have been incorporated into the Ystwyth Trail cycle route. However, the section of trackbed from Trawsgoed station to just south of Ystrad Meurig including the tunnel adjacent to the former Caradog Falls halt is unavailable, being mostly in private ownership. On the Ystwyth Trail eastward from Llanilar to Trawsgoed, the flooding damage which caused closure of the line in December 1964 can be seen.

During the mid-1990s, a narrow-gauge railway was unsuccessfully proposed by the Ystwyth Valley Preservation Society—based on reopening a section of route from Llanilar to Llanfarian. Some items of standard-gauge rolling stock were moved into Llanilar station yard at the time - including an LNER compartment coach plus some 4-wheel tank wagons.

Quantities of trackbed and bridge abutments remain along the route, although some parts have been farmed over. Other surviving remains include, from north to south:

  • Llanrhystyd Road (TBA)
  • Llanilar station platforms - with remains of GWR fencing
  • Felindyffrin (TBA)
  • Trawsgoed station, in a ruined state
  • Caradog Falls Halt, intact but surrounded by private property
  • Strata Florida signal box, under restoration by enthusiasts
  • Alltddu Halt
  • Tregaron station shelter, adjacent to Tregaron hospital, is now a viewing shelter for the Tregaron Horse Club; also, a GWR pagoda shelter remains on a farm near Tregaron High School
  • Pont Llanio: A GWR 1930s cast-iron water-tower is located next to the road bridge and the site of a former creamery
  • Olmarch: Parts of the GWR halt platform remain under a minor road bridge east of the A485 road
  • Llangybi: (TBA)
  • Derry Ormond station building and platforms remain at the end of a narrow road from the village of Betws Bledrws—one of only two station buildings surviving on the line
  • Lampeter goods shed—the only surviving railway related building in Lampeter. A large concrete bridge across the River Teifi remains, adjacent to the A482 road south of Lampeter
  • Llanybydder (TBA)
  • Maesycrugiau (TBA)
  • Bryn Teifi (TBA)
  • Pencader: A steel overbridge remains over the road between Pencader and Llandysul
  • Pencader Tunnel - The southern portal remains accessible from a forestry plantation road which joins a minor road between Pencader and Llanpumpsaint.
  • Llanpumpsaint: An overbridge remains over the road through the village.
  • Cynwyl Elfed station platforms and some rolling stock are owned by the Gwili Railway


Named from north to south, unless otherwise stated[5]:

Bryn Teifi station in 1962

Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway

Manchester and Milford Railway

  • Aberystwyth - owned by the Cambrian Railway, junction with Vale of Rheidol Railway, still open
  • Llanrhystyd Road
  • Llanilar
  • Trawsgoed
  • Strata Florida Location of proposed triangle for northern route to Llangurig
  • Alltddu Later site of a small GWR halt
  • Tregaron
  • Pont Llanio Site of the now closed Milk Creamery that would keep the line open north of Lampeter until 1970 - located near to village of Llanddewi-Brefi
  • Olmarch Later site of a small GWR halt
  • Llangybi Small halt located between 2 road bridges
  • Derry Ormond Near to village of Betws Bledrws
  • Lampeter Junction station for the Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway.
  • Llanybydder
  • Maesycrugiau
  • Bryn Teifi
  • Pencader - junction with Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway

Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway


  • Aberaeron
  • Llanerch Aeron Halt: Location of junction of proposed branch to New Quay
  • Crossways Halt
  • Ciliau Aeron Halt
  • Felinfach (near Ystrad Aeron): Later site of the Green Grove creamery that would keep the line open for freight only until 1973. The station building has been moved to Llwynfan Cerrig, Gwili Railway
  • Talsarn Halt
  • Blaenplwyf Halt: Summit of the line
  • Silian Halt
  • Lampeter


  • Aberaeron Junction
  • Oakford: Proposed intermediate station
  • Llanarth: Summit of the proposed line
  • Gilfachreda: Proposed Intermediate Station
  • New Quay: Terminus of the proposed line

See also

  • List of never used railways


  1. ^ (Context of) Thomas Edward Owen (Manchester and Milford Railway) Papers at Archives Wales, National Library of Wales
  2. ^ a b Pontrhydfendigaid An archival site about the subject district
  3. ^ Railways that never were Discussion at Google Group UK Railway, January 2007
  4. ^ Gwili Steam Railway: History at Gwili Steam Railway Company (a community-supported commercial enterprise)
  5. ^ Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway at Railscot,
  6. ^ Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway at Railscot,

External links

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