On the first morning of Fishguard’s new rail service, the Clarbeston Road link broke.
Three days ago, Fishguard Trains published concerns about the lack of passenger information at the halt which has become a critical link in the transport chain connecting Fishguard to the world. Four times daily, passengers must change trains here to continue their journey to and from Fishguard. They will be left standing on an empty platform with no access to information about their next train. Today, on the launch day of the new service, it happened – to us.
To cover the start of the new service, the Fishguard Trains team divided, some to report the official launch at Fishguard Harbour, some to travel on the 9:22 from Clarbeston Road to Fishguard (the final stage of the first long-distance train into Fishguard which left Hereford at 5:25).
Arriva has posted a new timetable at the roadside that confirmed the 9:22 and the other new services. But the view on the platform was discouraging, with signals set firmly to red.
When the train was ten minutes late, we left the platform, crossed the bridge and went to the so-called “Information Point”. This time we filmed and recorded what happened when we pressed the button. Fishguard Trains will supply the video evidence to any interested party.
First the faint recorded voice reported the “dauddeg-naw i deg o’r gloch i Manceinion”, with detailed instructions for requesting the train to stop. Then – in English – the 9:31 to Manchester, with full instructions as before. Next, the “10:28 i Aberdaugleddau”, with the request stop instructions repeated in detail. Finally, as the English voice began the fourth repeat of the request stop instructions for the 10:28, the 9:31 train to Manchester departed in the cutting below. If that had been our train, we would have missed it while trying to get information. We stopped filming after 2′ 10″.
There was no mention of the 9:22 to Fishguard, at any point, in any language.
As before, there was no mobile signal to call National Rail Enquiries. Only after driving back to Fishguard, we learnt that the 9:22 had been delayed for half an hour.
When we published our concerns three days ago, we immediately drew them to the attention of Arriva Trains Wales and the Welsh Government Rail Unit. We have not yet received a reply. Fishguard Trains is not testing this broken part of our rail infrastructure in order to be controversial. We are very concerned that passengers who are tempted off the road and on to our new rail service will rapidly return to their cars if they encounter such disregard for basic passenger service. The Clarbeston Road link must be repaired, and it must be repaired at once. We will continue to press the rail operators and authorities to respond to this urgent issue.
UPDATE September 14th
Fishguard Trains has Arriva’s response – see the post Arriva and Clarbeston Road