A COUNCILLOR has branded the idea that an inland rail line - scrapped 55 years ago under the under the Beeching axe - can be reinstated as an 'impossible pipe dream'.

Officers from Denbighshire are set to meet consultants this month to discuss a feasibility study into reopening the Denbigh to Corwen line and linking it with Rhyl. It comes after UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps promised that £500m would be made available for reopening lines closed after Beeching’s Report.

The missing section of track, which helped keep rural areas of Denbighshire in touch with the coastal strip, was closed to passengers in 1962 and was used for freight traffic until 1965 when it was finally shut down.

Rhyl cllr Brian Jones, Denbighshire's lead member for Waste, Transport and the Environment, is keen to see the line re-instated and plans meet with a consultancy company, who have dealt with similar projects, this August but Prestatyn cllr Paul Penlington has rubbished the suggestion the rail line can be brought back.

He said: "I am somewhat cynical, to be polite, about the reasoning behind the nonsense being promoted by cllr Brian Jones and James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, in the Journal and Free Press last week. Reinstating a non-existent Railway line from Corwen to Rhyl. I can save them the cost and bother of using expensive consultants - this railway reinstatement will never happen.

"If they have taken a moment to look at the Westminster funding available, they would discover their plan is not applicable.

"The funding is for bringing old lines back into use or refurbishing existing stations. Denbighshire, from Corwen to Rhyl, has neither and the deadline for 2020 applications passed several weeks ago.

"In the current climate, it is unlikely there will be any further funding for projects of this nature, certainly not at the level cllr Jones suggests.

"As Denbighshire is committed to becoming a carbon neutral county by 2030, a much better plan for any old railway line would be to create a cycle path the length of the county.

"That would be great recreationally for everyone, a good environmentally friendly transport link and would attract visitors into the area. It would be a huge boost to our tourist economy too.

"However, neither plan is possible. I walked the whole length of the old railway line a few years ago, with some friends, looking for a possible charity challenge walking route. There is no accessible route anymore and very few signs there ever was a railway line there."

Cllr Penlington added that 'massive funding' is needed to make the project feasible as well as a 'huge amount of 'goodwill' from multiple landowners and existing businesses.

"If this cabinet member is really committed to reducing Denbighshire’s carbon output, he should be looking at that not a vanity project railway that would also destroy many acres of green land along the way," he said.

"We are still suffering the human and financial consequences of the Covid crisis and may well see a second wave in the near future.

"These two elected representatives would be better focusing their energies on how to address the safety and well being of residents rather than living out their childhood fantasies of railways.

"Even if, by some miracle, Denbighshire managed to access the total £500 million mentioned by Westminster it would still be far short of the cost of installing a 30 mile plus railway line with associated stations, bridges, compulsory land purchase, and infrastructure along the route."

Remaining positive, cllr Jones responded: "I have received numerous emails supporting the proposed feasibility study to re-establish a Vale of Clwyd Metro Link from Rhyl to Corwen. One has been receive from the Very Reverend Father Tad Deiniol of North Wales. I supposed we could say that the Good Lord is on board with our aspirations and endeavours for this venture.

"Whilst the rail link proposal presents a number of technical and financial challenges, the unquestioned benefits of such a project can not be ignored, on both the commercial and local economic fronts.

"I therefore look forward to the meeting with senior Denbighshire County Council Officers and associated stakeholders to discuss the next steps."

Dr Davies said the pot of £500million is not to construct new railways but to fund the development of business cases which can lead to that.

He also commented that the next funding round deadline is November.

"Of course there would be many challenges in reconstructing a line all the way to Corwen," he said.

"My personal suggestion has been to explore the possibility of a light rail route from Rhyl to St Asaph as a starter, ideally serving Glan Clwyd Hospital and the Business Park.

"Clearly the main reasoning behind such a development would be an economic one – it could provide a much stronger link from Rhyl to jobs inland and vice versa. It would also connect inland Denbighshire with the national network, which would fit well with HS2, Growth Track 360 / Northern Powerhouse improvements and ultimately the green agenda.

"It is very important that the area demonstrates to the government that it is serious about improving local infrastructure.

"Council officers have surveyed the constraints and reported on the undeveloped and extensive local authority owned former sections.

"I would support new cycle paths where links currently do not exist, although I believe there is already one along the A525 to St Asaph, but this fund is about non-devolved rail infrastructure and cycle paths are a devolved matter overseen by Welsh Government."