On closer examination, the rail spur from the Vale line into Cardiff Airport is still a part of the Vale of Glamorgan’s thinking, if not their immediate plans.
In our previous post. we reported that the rail spur had been taken out of the Vale Council’s immediate plans for development in the county, but now that we’ve had the chance to take a closer look at the Local Development Plan, we’ve noticed that they hold out the possibility of building the rail spur at some (unspecified) time in the future, to support the Enterprise Zone at Cardiff Airport.
The reference comes in a section that deals with the Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone on pages 70 – 71. the enterprise zone is an initiative to create employment opportunities in the aerospace and defence sectors, and is located at the Aerospace business park in St Athan and the land adjacent to Cardiff Airport and Port Road.
The LDP says that a “Masterplan” is being prepared by the Welsh Government, and will inform part of the future planning and development of the land, and will address a number of issues including the development of the land for employment, the provision of an energy centre and “Safeguarding of a route for a potential rail link to Cardiff Airport across the site…”.
In order to “Safeguard a route”, the Welsh Government will need to identify that route, and this prompts questions about where it will go, what habitats it might disturb and the impact that it may have on the Vale line. As we have shown before, a spur from the Vale line to the airport will disrupt the important commuter connection from Llantwit Major and Rhoose into Cardiff, just as the electrification of the line is announced.
So could Vale commuters see their Vale line increase to half hourly trains only to be quickly pegged back to the existing (and inadequate) hourly service? How will this “Masterplan” will be put together, including crucially, will the people of the Vale have a democratic opportunity to respond to the plan while it is still in a draft form?
My wife and I travel by air quite a lot during winter months due to her ill health. I think the rail spur would be a total waste as Rhoose airport is far to expensive for the average person to afford. We always use bristol because. Of the above reason.
Proposal for this Rail spur makes no sense.
What is the total cost?
Thousands of acres of prime land will be lost together with revenues and jobs. A few caretaker / baggage handler jobs would be created.
A direct road link from the motorway obviously would generate far more direct work opportunities.
The spur to Cardiff Airport will be a disaster both for the commuter links and for the community, the engineering and construction costs will run into millions, let us not forget that Cardiff is a very small airport with very limited flights. One only has to look at Bristol to see how a regional airport should be run. I suppose the only saving grace is that Bristol cannot take Boeing 747s or the larger Airbus.
Cardiff Airport will never be worth the huge amount of money needed for this project.
I think the Vale councillors should take a large step into the real world of economics.
A spur from the M4 or A4232 (a ridiculous suggestion) would be FAR more expensive, take much longer to build, put an extraordinary greater area of agricultural land out of productive use, introduce far more noise disruption and air pollution to a much larger part of the vale, be against societies moral responsibility to reduce dependency on the car by moving transport onto rail. SEWTA’s report in 2008 called for improved sustainable access to Cardiff Airport – a road is NOT a sustainable transport solution.. rail is.
Wales needs it’s OWN national airport, surely no proud Welshman can argue against that! Rhoose airport used to have over 2m customers in 2006-7 before the previous Spanish management let it wither (67,000 movements in 2001 with 3600T of freight in 2000).
When Porthkerry viaduct collapsed soon after construction, a temporary rail loop was built and used between April 1898 and January 1900 following a similar rout to that proposed for the spur in the LDP. Presumably this was sanctioned by landowners who must have been compensated as, no doubt, they would be if such a spur is built in the future.
One important issue here is to make Rhoose even more accessible than Bristol as an airport to encourage usuage. No one can imagine that Bristol is easy to get to anyway and the extra time and fuel costs (and the bridge) must surely weigh in Rhoose Airport’s favour! A link from the mainline at Cardiff Central would be an ace in the hand for the owners when encouraging passengers away from Bristol.
However, it is VITAL that any such link must not jeopardise the current service to Rhoose and through to Bridgend. The current hourly train is barely adequate and, with any strategic rethink and rescheduling considered, this should be increased to half-hourly with a new station at Gilestown Halt to serve the large population around St Athan who are scandalously poorly served – the vast potential of the MOD site (Aerospace Business Park) and input into the local economy currently not being realised.
Indeed, perhaps this spur should be a loop via the airport along the 1898 alignment with all trains following this route through to Rhoose and beyond avoiding the viaduct which will always require maintenance and could, if removed from service, provide an excellent walking/cycle route into Barry.
It is noted that the 1898 route back to join the railway to the west of the viaduct does cross the end of the existing runway and so would need to be re-surveyed and it was a ‘twisty’ temporary route for, it is assumed, slow coal trains but re-engineering with revised cut and fill would even out the curves.
Hand-in-hand with a revitalised management strategy at the Airport bringing in more carriers, reducing fees, a positive and SUPPORTIVE (seemingly lacking) approach from the population of south Wales to use THEIR airport and NOT travel to Bristol and further afield, the LDP proposals seem like the obvious way to take the airport into a positive future and regain respect!
Amazed that a handful of NIMBYs can stand in the way of progress – funny how airport rail links work for Manchester, Heathrow, Gatwick – improving access to the airport is surely a no brainier – the railway line runs close by – use it!