The 18:34 returns!

National Rail Enquiries web page

wot no 18:34?

“Has anyone checked these times on National Rail Enquiries?” asked Sarah in a recent comment on Fishguard Trains. “When I put in journey options to Fishguard, the train arriving in Fishguard at 18.34 isn’t shown.”

She wasn’t alone in noticing that one of our precious five new westbound trains has vanished from the National Rail website. Our timetable boffins in the Fishguard Trains labs had also spotted the gap, and perhaps you did too. With less than a fortnight to the new service, the last thing we need is doubts about a timetable which hasn’t even started running.

We dug further, and found that the 15:15 from Cardiff direct to Fishguard at 18:34 – one of the most valuable new services – isn’t shown on Arriva Trains Wales own website either. Fearing the worst we emailed Arriva: Was this a bureaucratic error, or has the timetable been changed? And if so, how and why?

Today Fishguard Trains received Arriva’s reply, copied also to the Welsh Government Rail Unit and North Pembrokeshire Transport Forum:

“Network Rail has advised that the train will be put back into the system overnight tonight.”

So who or what dropped it out of the system? We are left guessing, but at least it is the right answer, indeed the only answer. Fishguard Trains is pleased to have been able to draw Arriva’s attention to the error, and to get it corrected, within 24 hours. But no more little surprises, please!

UPDATE Wednesday August 31st

Overnight Network Rail has given us good news, bad news and a mystery.

The good news is that Network Rail restored the 18:34 last night, as promised. Here are the times of the through service:

15:14 Cardiff Central

15:34 Bridgend

15:50 Port Talbot

16:01 Neath

16:59 Llanelli

17:35 Carmarthen

17:50 Whitland

17:57 Clunderwen

18:05 Clarbeston Road

18:29 Fishguard

The bad news is that the service no longer calls at Swansea. A connecting service leaves the Second City at 16:00.

The mystery is what happens to this train after it leaves Neath at 16:01. It halts at Skewen at 16:05, Llansamlet at 16:09, but then just disappears. 50 minutes later it reappears at Llanelli at 16:59. That section should take only 28 minutes. It doesn’t travel down to Swansea or up to Pontarddulais. It isn’t held up somewhere on the Swansea District Line, because it’s routed on the main line through Neath. Is this another mistake, or something more curious? Watch this space for Arriva’s next answer.

UPDATE Wednesday August 31st, 15:23

Arriva tell us this “should be rectified by tomorrow morning”, though without explaining how it is to be rectified. Fishguard Trains has requested an explanation so we can all understand what has been going on.

UPDATE Thursday September 1st, 21:46

Finally National Rail Enquiries gets it right. The 15:14 from Cardiff to Fishguard is now showing a stop in Swansea, from where it departs at 16:40 to arrive Fishguard at 18:29.

But we have received no real explanation for what’s been going on. When you only have seven trains a day each way, we can’t afford to have one disappear and reappear without warning  – only to be routed via a black hole between Llansamlet and Llanelli. Perhaps it’s a small issue in itself, but it adds to the wider concern expressed by Paul who comments on “the general online lack of publicity for the new service with 11 days to go. It seems to me, that unless you know about it, you may not know about it?!”

The three year trial is about to start, and there’s no room for complacency.

(Click the TIMETABLES link above for a growing range of timetables from Fishguard Trains)


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