In one of the most unexpected and bizarre news items to appear on British Trams Online in recent memory, outline proposals have been revealed for a possible revival of the legendary Swansea & Mumbles Railway system, which closed in 1960. Heritage Railway magazine has confirmed early suggestions for the popular line to re-open with at least two organisations expressing serious interest in the idea.
The Amman Valley Railway Society (which is a registered charity as well as a social enterprise company) have put forward a scheme to create a heritage railway scheme along the former tramway route, and it is reported that the appropriate licencing to re-open it has already been issued by Network Rail. The group has recently met with South Wales West Assembly Member Byron Davies to discuss an even more ambitious idea: the creation of a light rail network around Swansea Bay, which would take in the old Mumbles line, at an estimated cost of some £235 million. Further expansions to Swansea Airport and the Gower peninsula amongst others may also be considered.
The next stage will be to place a planning application and consult local residents to gain a better understanding of their views on the scheme, although Mr Davies believes that a favourable response is likely as it would potentially offer a much better transport network for commuters who regularly travel into Swansea. He claims that the area is “plagued by poor but expensive public transport provision” and that a light rail system could “unlock the economic potential of these old industrial areas”. Davies added that foreign investment is a distinct possibility, and that if the development goes ahead, he will be keen to retain access to the bay promenade for pedestrians and cyclists.
Such a development is likely to be greatly welcomed by transport enthusiasts, as the Swansea & Mumbles tramway is fondly remembered by many even today. It held the record as the longest-running railway ever and utilised a huge variety of different forms of traction over its lengthy existence. No complete tramcars survive from the system, although one end of Swansea & Mumbles 7 is preserved locally. If a heritage angle could be incorporated into a future redevelopment of the former tramway, wouldn’t it great if this could form the basis of a reconstruction of one of these trams… or is that asking too much!?