Hard on the heels of news of a funded study to reopen Goodwick station, Fishguard Trains can reveal a Stena Line solution to the biggest drawback in the planned timetable.
The Welsh Government’s proposed timetable for the new service delivers five extra trains from Fishguard, but in effect only three extra services to Fishguard. As Fishguard Trains has pointed out since May, the first two services leave Carmarthen before 6am, with no connections from east of that town. One runs to Fishguard at 5:50, and the other is a connection that leaves Carmarthen only eight minutes later – at 5:58 – requiring a 1 hour 6 minute wait to change trains at Clarbeston Road.
Not only will both these services run empty, but by including them amongst the five westbound services, huge gaps in the afternoon timetable cannot be filled.
These extraordinary timings are caused by trains having to be at Fishguard ready for the all-important early departures eastbound – which many contributors to Fishguard Trains confirm are vital for a useful service.
Asked why they didn’t timetable an evening train to stay overnight at Fishguard to overcome this problem, the Welsh Government Rail Unit told Fishguard Trains that Arriva has “security concerns” and the Harbour station was in any case Stena-owned.
“I see no problems at all with overnight stabling”
Now Stena Line’s Route Manager Ian Davies has told Fishguard Trains that he sees no threat to trains stabled overnight at their station. “In six to seven years I’ve been here, I’ve seen no vandalism to speak of. The passing loop has 24/7 security lighting and CCTV, and we have 24 hour manned security. I see no problems at all with overnight stabling.” The additional trains would make no difference at all to Stena – Davies describes the port as hectic for the hours either side of a sailing, and then as quiet as “a ghost town”.
“Cut out the unproductive journeys”
Ian Davies goes further, expressing concern at an inadequate timetable: “The three-year window is not a long time. They should cut out the unproductive journeys. They undermine the case for the service. Better use of money now will pay dividends in the long run”. Fishguard Trains urges the Rail Unit to look carefully at this serious offer from Stena Line.
The irony of this will not be lost on everyone campaigning for Goodwick Station reopening. If and when it does reopen, the Harbour Station will still be needed to stable trains overnight on the passing loop, to give us the five westbound services we were promised, and not just the three currently on offer.