The village of Bow in Mid Wales has re-joined the rail network for the first time in over half a century
Back in the Sixties, Dr Richard Beeching had a lot to answer for when he sanctioned the closure of over 5,000 miles of railway track and 2,000 stations. But now one of those stations axed in the infamous Beeching report has re-joined the rail network after more than half a century of gathering dust.
Bow Street (pictured) near Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, closed its doors in 1965 after 101 years of welcoming passengers onto its platform. At the time it probably seemed there was no way back, but when the 09:12am service from Machynlleth to Aberystwyth stopped to pick up passengers on Sunday 14th February this year, all that changed.
Celebrations may have been kept low key due to Covid restrictions, but it is a huge triumph for locals after years of campaigning. The £8m project to reopen the station on the Cambrian Line that connects Aberystwyth and Pwllheli to Birmingham and Shrewsbury has been 11 years in the making.
"This is an important milestone for us,” says Transport for Wales chief executive James Price. "We'd have liked to celebrate it more but that's not appropriate and safe at the moment."
Bow Street is the first station to open in Wales since Pye Corner in Newport more than six years ago, and Welsh ministers and rail bosses hope it will be the first of many.
St Clears station in Carmarthenshire, Carno in Powys, Deeside Parkway in Flintshire and Ely Mill in Cardiff are all hoping to be reconnected to main lines soon.
There are many advantages to re-opening stations. Estimates made for the Welsh Government suggest Bow Street will generate 30,000 annual trips and take nearly 466,000 vehicle miles (750,000km) off the local road network every year, helping reduce carbon emissions and congestion, as well as parking issues in nearby Aberystwyth.
"The benefit for the amount of money invested here was higher than anywhere else," adds Mr Price.
With its 70-space car park, bike shelter and 100m platform, the idea is for the station to be a local travel hub to take the pressure off the seaside and busy university town of Aberystwyth less than four miles away.