EVENTS were held all along the Heart of Wales line today, Friday (Mar 23) as it celebrated the 150th anniversary of the line, which has survived the Beeching axe in the 1960s thanks to the fact it carried freight from South Wales and went through several marginal political constituencies and closing it could have been political suicide.
The line is loved by the thousands of regular and new users Arriva Trains Wales welcomes on to its services every year so we are delighted to celebrate the 150th anniversary. It is 121 miles stretching from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, through Powys and Carmarthenshire before reaching Swansea as its final destination.
Arriva Trains Wales Managing Director Tom Joyner described it as “one of the most beautiful lines in Britain”.
Some services run to Crewe and the station announcement at Swansea for the service which is recorded in Welsh and English, is the longest in the UK (as covered by the Evening Post last year).
Guests gathered on Platform 7 at Shrewsbury in the presence of Lord Mayor Jane Mackenzie, Arriva Trains Wales’ Managing Director Tom Joyner and Professor Paul Salveson, while ‘Shrewsbury Morris’ entertained passengers and staff with traditional Morris Dancing.
With the Lord Mayor on board, a special train left Shrewsbury at 1009 on its 121 mile journey to Swansea as guests and passengers enjoyed poetry reading and music along the way.
A large crowd had gathered to greet the train on arrival at Swansea where speeches were made by the Lord Mayor of Swansea Councillor Philip Downing, Professor Stuart Cole and Jan Swindler, the Town Crier for Llandrindod. The Morriston Orpheus Choir sang a melody of popular songs and hymns.
Speaking at Shrewsbury, Arriva Trains Wales’ Managing Director Tom Joyner, said, “The Heart of Wales is arguably one of the finest scenic railway lines in the UK and I’d like to recognise the hard work of everyone – including the members of the Heart of Wales Line Development Company and the Travellers’ Association, who help to promote the line.”
He also acknowledged the dedication of the many volunteers in rural communities along the line who help look after some of the 34 stations as part of ATW’s station adoption programme.
Further events to celebrate the line’s anniversary will be held during the year, details of which will be available at http://heart-of-wales.co.uk/
The train was met by the Morriston Orpheous Choir who brought Swansea station to a standstill with their performance of classic songs, ending with the Welsh National Anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nghadau, which was sung by customers and rail staff alike.
The Lord Mayor of Swansea then delivered a speech about the importance of the line alongside Professor Stuart Cole, President of the Heart of Wales Travellers Association, who said the line could look forward to a bright future.
Geraint Morgan, Community Relations Manager for Arriva Trains Wales, said: “It has been an incredible day and something we’ve been so proud to be involved in.
“This line means so much to so many people and up and down it we see so many fantastic examples of communities getting involved in their railway and helping look after their local stations, through our Station Adoption programme.
“Yes it connects Swansea to Shrewsbury, but it does far more than that. It connects towns, villages and most importantly, people. Here’s to another 150 years!”