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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 09:54 GMT
Railway Tavern's verdict on line
Sian Harris
BBC Wales news website

The Railway Tavern sign
Customers at the Railway Tavern are optimistic about the new rail line
The Railway Tavern's historical link with train travel is reflected not only its name but the old photographs that hang on the walls.

A local station and line that once ran alongside have long gone but of late, the railway has again been a topic of conversation in this Tredgar pub.

Until now, most talk of the 30m rail link from neighbouring Ebbw Vale to Cardiff has surrounded its delayed opening.

But on a cold winter afternoon, the thoughts of both landlords and customers turned to the benefits it may bring.

Driving from Tredegar to the Welsh capital takes around 45 minutes on a day when the traffic is kind. Up to an hour if not.

Sandra Lewis, who with husband Gwyn moved from Cardiff to become landlords of the Railway Tavern five months ago, said it can be a long drive.

She said: "At the moment, it [Tredegar] feels very remote. Unless you get the bus, if you haven't got a car, it's very difficult to access most things."

Matt, Ellie and Stephanie Jones
I think only down side, if does become popular, is it could make house prices even more out of reach of first time buyers.
Matt Jones, customer

Someone the new link could make a big difference to, according to Mrs Lewis, is her elderly mother who lives with them.

"For her to pop on a train to go to Cardiff, it would change her life," she said.

"It would make it so accessible for her, quicker, to see friends and things. If she's got to get a bus, it takes an hour-and-a-half to get there. It really eats into day."

Customer John Moore, 67, from Ebbw Vale, hoped the new line could mean an easier journey to Cardiff's Velindre Hospital where he is undergoing cancer treatment.

He said: "I would consider using the train to go to Velindre...A friend just started radiotherapy and has to be there 7am to 8am, if you get stuck in traffic they cancel radiotherapy."

The retired crane driver added: "It will make a big difference for the younger element, to be able to travel into city to find work."

Landlord Gwyn, 52, agreed: "We have a lot of unemployment in the valleys, it will make Cardiff more accessible for unemployed youngsters.

"I don't think there will be a lot of travel back the other way. I can't see people coming up to Ebbw Vale and Tredegar."

His wife, however, was optimistic people will take the train to Ebbw Vale and come to Tredegar to experience its "beautiful walks".

Photograph of Tredegar Station
The line near the Railway Tavern ran from Abergavenny to Nantybwch

A further spin-off will be increased trade for taxi drivers, according to Mr Lewis.

He said: "We ring taxi drivers a lot. It's going to bring business to them. If people from Tredegar are using Ebbw Vale station, they're going to need a taxi."

Customer Mel Jones, 50, from Ebbw Vale, owns a security company and often avoids leaving home until after 0900 GMT to avoid A470 traffic.

He hopes more people using the train could ease traffic.

Matt Jones, 39, from Tredegar, who was enjoying lunch with wife Stephanie, 34, and three-year-old daughter Ellie, said they would try the new line.

He said: "We haven't had a rail link for so long, it's got to be a good for the Valleys.

"A lot of people who would not go into Cardiff, who haven't got car, may jump on a train. It will also help older people and people with disabilities who might find it difficult to get on bus."

But, he added: "I think only down side, if it does become popular, is it could make house prices even more out of reach of first-time buyers."



SEE ALSO
Train service resumes 46 years on
06 Feb 08 |  South East Wales
Work still needed on 30m line
04 Jan 08 |  South East Wales
30m valley's rail link go-ahead
18 Dec 07 |  South East Wales
Talks held over 30m rail delay
14 Dec 07 |  South East Wales
Anger as 30m rail line delayed
12 Dec 07 |  South East Wales
Slow worms could delay stations
25 Oct 07 |  South East Wales



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