The Rhondda Tunnel Society, which was formed in 2014, has been awarded a £90,000 grant towards plans to re-open the disused Victorian railway tunnel. The society is campaigning to re-open it as a walking and cycling route.
The grant, which has come from Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund, will cover the cost of a comprehensive investigation of the deserted tunnel. It’s almost two miles long and runs between The Rhondda and the Afan Valleys. It was historically used by trains carrying coal from the Rhondda mines to the ports of Swansea Bay, but it was shut in 1968 and the entrances buried.
The tunnel is currently owned by Highways England and although it is answerable for its safety, it does not have the permission to re-open it. They have said they are willing to hand it over to either the Welsh Government or the two local authorities – Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taff.
The money will pay the cost for three essential surveys:
- A thorough examination to determine faults and an estimate budget to correct them
- A geotechnical survey of the material used to close off the openings at both ends
- A survey to examine the land earmarked to receive the excavated spoil which will be used to create level, well-drained ground suitable for visitors’ centres, car parks and camping and caravanning sites at both ends
Steve Mackey, Rhondda Tunney Society Chairman believes the results if the surveys would be “a key step in persuading a Welsh Government body to take ownership”.
“The report and costings for the whole project will be a key step in persuading a Welsh government body to take ownership. This will enable the Rhondda Tunnel Society to secure the resources to restore it.”
Should the plans come to fruition to re-open the tunnel as a walking and cycling route, it will the longest in Europe and the second longest in the world. This will inevitably be a valuable boost Welsh tourism.