THE RESULTS of a scoping exercise which looked into the practicalities of reopening the Carmarthen – Aberystwyth railway line were published last week (Dec 22). Earlier this year, following lobbying by Traws Cymru, Economy and Transport Minister, Edwina Hart agreed to fund an initial study on the potential of reopening the railway, which has been closed to passenger traffic since 1965, with a section remaining open for freight until 1973. AECOM was commissioned by the Welsh Government to provide technical advice, in the form of a report, setting out all the issues to be considered under a full feasibility study into re-opening the line, and providing a scope, programme and cost for that study Among the key findings of the exercise were that over 97% of the original route remains undeveloped.
However, due to residential development at the Aberystwyth end, it is thought that a tunnel would have to be built under Penparcau, which could cost more than £60m. The core formation – tunnels, embankments and bridges – has generally remained intact, but new bridges would be needed at Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. A new route would possibly have to be found at the Carmarthen end, to replace that currently used by the Gwili Railway. While it was accepted that the original route may not be the optimal one today, the scoping exercise recognized that the topography of the area does not lend itself to alternative routes. The costs for the line are, at this stage, highly indicative due to uncertainties about the route and the extent to which the core formation will have to be repaired or replaced. However, the construction cost was estimated to be between £350m and £505m. With land and consent costs, this would rise to £750m. At present, the Welsh Governmentbacked bus service between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth was used 102,000 times last year.
The report pointed out that the main population centres were at either end of the route, and suggested that, even with speed restrictions and passing times, a journey time of 90 minutes between the two should be possible. Commenting on the report, Mrs Hart said: “Improving public transport links is a key priority for this government and this includes increasing access links across rural communities. “Carmarthen to Aberystwyth is already connected by a regular Welsh Government funded bus service, but I am open-minded to alternative public transport links and this scoping exercise will help inform the debate. Although funding railway infrastructure is non-devolved, I am pleased the Welsh Government has been able to assist with this first step in the possible re-introduction of rail services between these two locations.”
Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June
ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.
A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.
An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.
The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.
Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”
If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.
All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.
It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.
Please check for local arrangements.
Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.
Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.
Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.
“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”
Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.
They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS
Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”
“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”
Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.
The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.
Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre
LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.
In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.
This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”
“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”
“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”
“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”
“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”
“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”
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