Plans to re-open St Clears railway station have seemingly gone off the rails, with Welsh Government conceding that it does not have sufficient funds to put towards the project.
Local politicians had continued to ask questions in recent weeks on a lack of progress from the Welsh Government on plans to re-open the railway station, which closed in 1964.
The UK Government had previously committed £4.7 million towards a new station. Groundwork and surveying were undertaken at the site between February and March 2022 to begin the work of upgrading and reopening the station.
However, it had become apparent over recent months that there was uncertainty over the funding behind the project – with the Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters confirming before the summer that costs had increased significantly.
Conservative politicians for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Simon Hart MP and Samuel Kurtz MS, this month expressed their joint concern over the future of the railway station, as they held a site visit with local county councillors and Carmarthenshire County Council officials to discuss the hold up.
“The UK Government promised nearly £5 million towards the project and the Welsh Government put in another £1.6 million - but the costs have doubled due to the price of changing the signalling and there is now a shortfall of nearly £6 million,” said Mr Hart.
“I’m in contact with the Transport Secretary to try to ensure that the money remains on the table and Sam is also lobbying hard in Cardiff Bay to ensure that this vital new transport hub becomes reality,” he added.
However, discussing the matter at the Senedd this week, Deputy Minister Mr Waters said the original cost of £6m to re-open the station had now doubled, putting the scheme in doubt, with ‘rail infrastructure not devolved’.
“There's an assumption in this scheme that the Welsh Government will match-fund and we were willing to match-fund at a lower cost but we simply do not have the funds to match-fund at the higher costs. That is the truth of the situation,” remarked Mr Waters.
“We recognise the need for a station in St Clears and fully support it and want it to happen. I think the reality and the practicalities we face and the choices we have here is that we know there's a plan for a large hospital nearby – public transport connectivity to that is critical.
“I think we need to be looking at those two developments in tandem. If the UK Government wants to take its responsibilities for rail infrastructure seriously and provide further funding we'd be very grateful to work with them.”
Senedd Member for the area Mr Kurtz said that it was disappointing that the Welsh Government had dragged their feet over St Clears station
“Despite this project being greenlit a few years ago the Welsh Government have conflated the station build with the potential new hospital, seemingly making the station conditional on the hospital being built in St Clears. This means there has been no progress at all and, in this time, costs have risen.
“The UK Government committed nearly £5m to the project while the Welsh Government pledged another £1.6m. But the Welsh Government have not moved quickly enough.
“For a project that saw buy-in from the UK Government, the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, and National Rail I and the community are disappointed by the dragging of heels by the Welsh Government on the re-opening of this station.”