Return to Fishguard

On Tuesday Fishguard Trains’ team reached Cardiff without a hitch (Illustrated report here). How did we fare on the return journey on Thursday?

Fishguard train times still incorrect at Cardiff Central

still not right

At Cardiff Central we check the timetables. Arriva still hasn’t managed to correct Fishguard times. Are they serious about promoting the new service?

17:40 The Milford Haven train leaves a minute late, standing room only.

Conductor and recorded announcements both warn us to request the stops at Clunderwen, Clarbeston Road and Johnston. But there’s no mention of changing at Clarbeston Road for Fishguard. So if you’re going to Fishguard and you don’t know you have to change at Clarbeston Road, then you don’t ask for the train to stop there. Very poor.

17:59 Bridgend. Five passengers sitting near us are heading for Fishguard and the ferry, having missed the lunchtime boat train. They are anxiously asking the conductor what to do. “Clarbeston Road – so how far from Fishguard is that? And is there a restaurant there?” We hand out Fishguard & Six Nations timetables, and tell them they’ll find somewhere to eat in Fishguard.

the sea at Ferryside from the train

sea, sky, islands, sunset

18:30 After Swansea, the new conductor announces “change at Clarbeston Road for Fishguard”.

19:15 Passing Ferryside, a stretch of railway which deserves more fame. In a south-westerly, the line is drenched by Atlantic waves. On this peaceful evening, the view just does you good.

19:30 Coming into Carmarthen the conductor is more forthcoming: “Passengers for Fishguard please remain on this service and change at Clarbeston Road.” Could that be because someone has already made that mistake and got off at Carmarthen expecting a train to Fishguard?

passengers leaving train at Clarbeston Road19:59 The new conductor probably announced Clarbeston Road, but his brief words failed to break through the tannoy system. If we hadn’t told the ferry five that it’s time to change trains, they’d be in the dark.

20:00 Nine passengers climb out and into a near-black platform. “Where are we?” they say, astonished that this primitive platform is where we change trains on an international route. We assure them all is well, and point out the shuttle train waiting to pull in to the platform.

But as the pictures show, the scene is unsettling. Without helpful words from fellow passengers, some travellers would find this daunting.

train approaching dark platform at Clarbeston Road

Midnight Express

20:05 The shuttle pulls in, the conductor opens the door, saying “Fishguard?”, surprised to see nine of us step out of the gloom on the platform, five for the ferry, four for Fishguard.

20:25 Early into Fishguard Harbour. A local taxi driver has turned up to see who needs lifts.

The presence of five ferry passengers on this journey is unexpected. But it seems likely to happen often, when people miss an earlier connection. Indeed some might prefer to arrive in Fishguard in the evening to eat, drink and relax, and get on the night ferry as soon as possible after it arrives at 12:30 rather than at 1:30 in the morning when the night boat train arrives. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and taxis please note.

GOOD THAT – all trains ran to time, the Fishguard service is already being used, and the connection at Clarbeston Road is as efficient as it could be. And we arrived early.

SHAME THAT – the service is marred by poor or non-existent information, and by an interchange station which (as we reported before) is unfit for purpose.

6 Comments

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6 Responses to Return to Fishguard

  1. Rhydgaled

    I was among the passengers on the 09:56 on Tuesday 20th, with my car-driving companion who parked at the free car park behind the Tesco Express at Goodwick. We walked down to the harbour, but it would have been nice if there was some indication whether the shuttle bus will pick up outside the Tesco Express.

    We returned the same evening, on the 17:39 as you did, having been up to Treorchy. Such a shame our last train is standing room only out of Cardiff, the man staffing the trapped refreshment trolley confirmed, yes it is always a 2-car unit and yes it is always full of passengers who won’t wait for the next 8-car London to Swansea train. The light was failing as we passed along the river from Ferryside, but a wonderful sunset replaced the normal spectacular view.

    The guard informed the driver to stop at Clarbeston Road, I didn’t hear it but my car-driving companion said he followed up with: “that’s the second one”, ie. nobody had requested a stop at Clunderwen. For the run into Fishguard from Clarbeston Road there were two coaches for three passengers (myself, my car-driving companion and one other).

    To my suprisise a Richards Bros bus was waiting at the harbour, so on it me and my companion jumped (the third passenger on the train didn’t join us on the bus, either he was too slow or had other transport). I plan to e-mail Richards Bros to find out why a bus was there, despite all the timetables suggesting otherwise.

  2. Anthony

    Hi

    The 17:39 departure to Milford Haven from cardiff tonight was a 3 carriage class 175, which just about managed to cope with the number of passengers. 1 problems is people wont wait for 10 minutes to get on the 17:48 hst to Swansea which would have more seats.

    Noted when passing canton that ther were at least 4 units sitting outside and a class 150 was in the Pulman rail depot.

    I am hoping to take a trip to Fishguard on the 07:10 departure from Pyle this week, maybe i might make it morning out in Fishguard. Might i mak a suggestion that a plusbus option is introduced for Fishguard if there isnt 1 already, this would be usful for users when Fishguard & Goodwick station is re-opened

  3. Swansea Jack

    Just returned from Cardiff on the 15:14 Cardiff Central to Fishguard Harbour today (Friday 28th October). I did a passenger count of passengers joining / leaving the train after Swansea. The train was full and standing from Cardiff to Llanelli. I estimate about 144 passengers were onboard out of Swansea, 102 remained on board to Carmarthen. I counted 70 passengers onboard from Carmarthen, with about 53 into the Harbour. Now I realise it is half term week, and a Friday too, but that is certainly a lot busier than in the first couple of weeks. By the way, the following 16:05 from Cardiff – the Manchester to Milford Haven service was also very full out of both Cardiff and Swansea, with passengers having to stand as far West as Llanelli, so it’s a good thing that we achieved a 16:40 service from Swansea to Fishguard. The 09:56 seems to have been busy this week too, while the numbers on the 17:00 from Fishguard have been good too.

    Let’s keep on telling everyone we know about our new trains, I still come across people unaware of our new trains.

  4. Anthony

    Didnt know there was a train from Fishguard at 17:00

  5. Swansea Jack

    19:00 from Fishguard sorry! The person who sent me the gen still works in am /pm times rather than the 24 hour clock!

    I wonder how busy the trains were today?

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