On the 19th May 2022 in the House of Commons , in a debate about Connectivity and the Railways, Craig Williams asked a question to the Rail Minister Wendy Morton. The record from Hansard is shown below:
Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire) (Con) What steps his Department is taking to connect more towns to the railway network.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Wendy Morton) The Government are investing record levels in rail enhancements across England and Wales. The £500 million restoring your railway fund is currently supporting more than 45 schemes to reconnect communities and reverse the Beeching cuts.
Craig Williams Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the Carno station action group, which has campaigned for more than two decades to reopen Carno station? I implore her to meet me to talk about the Welsh Government’s kind offer to put forward 25% of the funding to open the station at Carno in Montgomeryshire.
Wendy Morton I know that my hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for all things to do with Montgomeryshire, particularly for better transport. Sir Peter Hendy’s Union connectivity review supported further improvements between mid-Wales and the midlands. We are obviously considering them very carefully, but I would be more than happy to meet my hon. Friend.
We would like to thank Craig once again for his support for the campaign and look forward to meeting with him soon to discuss the details of his meeting with Wendy Morton.
Lee Waters, the Welsh Government Deputy Minister responsible for Rail has written to the UK Minister for Transport Grant Shapps, contesting the refusal for funding for Carno and Ely Mill stations. The letter is supported by a Technical report from Transport for Wales which details why they thought that the reasons given for the rejection were incorrect. The letter and supporting report can be read on the Welsh government website HERE.
CSAG are encouraged that the Welsh Government are still supporting the opening of a station at Carno, and are pushing at the highest levels to move the project forward.
After a long, long delay we finally received the news today that the application for funding for the station has been rejected by the UK Government. This is because, we believe, the costs in the application from the Welsh Government were too high. Looking at those application documents it is clear that those estimated costs when compared to say St Clears, were inflated by what we believe were unnecessary and expensive infrastructure around the new platform. This meant that the cost for the single platform proposal for Carno was significantly more than the two-line, two platform station at St Clears. In our view this gave the application for Carno little chance of success and we deeply regret not being involved in the preparation of those documents before the funding application was made.
Having said that, this is the furthest the campaign has ever got, and we have been told by the UK Department for Transport that this unsuccessful bid will not stop further bids when future funding becomes available. Whilst very disappointed with todays announcement, we look forward to working with the Welsh Government, Craig Williams MP, and Russell George MS, to produce a new station proposal which will allow us to provide this much needed resource to the residents of Carno and the surrounding area.
After a long delay the UK Government announced today that only one of the 4 stations for which the Welsh Government applied for funding in June has been successful. In a confusing announcement where the New Stations Fund has mysteriously risen from £20m to £32m, St Clears in South Wales is the only station in Wales which is to receive funding. To say we are disappointed is an understatment!
However, having discussed the situation with the Welsh Government, we have been told that this is not a final announcement and that other New Stations Fund applications are still in progress. So is Carno one of those stations? We will have to wait and see.
The site around the old Carno station has been cleared revealing the building in all its glory. Trees and vegetation had grown around the station over the years and some of the tree branches were overhanging the roof with the potential for damage.
Carno Station Action Group are extremely grateful to Barry Jones of JBJ Tree Services Ltd, our local tree surgeon, for kindly offering to carry out the work at no charge. Barry and Jeremy worked hard and with the assistance of some of the CSAG members, clearing and chipping all the trees both in the car park and on the old platform. “I am pleased to be able to offer my services to clear the site and to help with the campaign to reopen the station” said Barry. “When I was first starting out in business, I received some funding from Carno Community Council to do my very first chainsaw qualification, so this is a nice way to repay the help I was given back then. The opening of the station will be a great asset to all ages locally and we are looking forward to seeing the doors of the station open.’’
CSAG chairman Jeremy Barnes, who was one of the helpers, thanked Barry for his generous contribution to the campaign adding “It is important that as the project moves forward, the buildings are not allowed to deteriorate. There is more work to do but this has been a vital first step in that process.”
We have been working closely with the Welsh Government over recent months to make sure that they will apply for funding for Carno Station from the UK Government New Stations Fund. We are delighted that Ken Skates, the Welsh Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, has written a letter to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, asking for funding for all four stations which have reached the third and final stage of the Assessment Scheme. The official press release from the Welsh Government is here and clearly states that Mr Skates considers all four stations – Carno, Deeside Park, St Clears, and Ely Mill – to be of equal priority.
This is a major step forward in the campaign to re-open a station and Carno Station Action group would like to thank everyone who has helped us so far. We will now have to wait to see if Mr Shapps reacts favourably to Mr Skates’ request for funding.
The news that Carno station along with three other in Wales is to proceed to the third and final stage of the Welsh Government New Station Assessment Scheme, has made it to the local Welsh TV. The piece was broadcast on the 13 Sept 2019 at the end of the “Newyddion 9” news program on S4C. At the time of writing there has still been no official announcement from the Welsh Government regarding the completion of Stage 2 and the 4 stations chosen. We will continue to push as hard as we can to make sure the Stage 3 process for Carno is a success as we continue our campaign.
You can view the TV report by clicking below. The report is in Welsh and there are (slightly delayed) English subtitles.
Almost two years ago, following a long fight by Carno Station Action Group, Carno was included in the list of 12 stations in Stage two of the Welsh Government Three Stage Assessment Process For New Stations (see this post for more details). The results of Stage two will define which of the 12 stations will proceed to Stage three – a full report on the financial and practical feasibility of each station.
At the time it was estimated by Ken Skates (Welsh Government Cabinet Minister for Economy and Transport) that Stage two would take approximately six months to complete – and since the summer of 2018 we have been asking Mr Skates at regular intervals when the results of Stage two are likely to be announced. Each time he was asked the reply was that the announcement was imminent, but even now (24 Aug 2019) there has still been no official announcement.
In July 2019 we met with Russell George AM who said he would ask Mr Skates once again why there has been no announcement and he said that he would apply to the National Assembly’s Research Service (Senedd Research) to see if they could find out any information. This week Russell received a document from Senedd Research titled “New rail station proposals and investment”, an extract of which reads:
The outcome of the Stage 2 appraisal process for new railway stations has been agreed by the Minister for Economy and Transport. The following stations have been prioritised for further assessment:
South East Wales: Ely Mill/Victoria Park South West Wales: St Clears North Wales: Deeside Industrial Park/Northern Gateway Mid Wales: Carno
So it appears that the decisions on what stations will go through to Stage 3 has been made but for whatever reason Mr Skates has chosen not to make an official announcement. Russell will be asking why that is the case and trying to get timescales and details of what happens next. But in the meantime, eighteen months later than anticipated, it seems that the case for opening a station in Carno will now proceed to a full assessment in readiness for the next round of funding from the UK Government.
Carno Station Action Group Chairman Jeremy Barnes commented: “Whilst this information is extremely welcome and an important step forward, we still await official confirmation from Ken Skates. We trust that this confirmation will be made very soon and in the meantime we will be requesting an urgent meeting with his representatives to clarify the next steps of Stage 3.
We would like to thank Russell George AM for obtaining this information and look forward to his continuing involvement and support for our campaign.”