Timetables? Wales 1, England 0

After celebrating Welsh victories over Samoa, Namibia, Fiji and Ireland, spare time for another small celebration: Fishguard train times are finally being displayed correctly at Cardiff Central.

Fishguard Trains first reported on September 14th that timetables on display at the busiest station in Wales (and no doubt at all other stations in Wales) had no less than three mistakes, including the complete omission of one of our precious new through trains from Cardiff to Fishguard.

A week later on September 20th we invited an Arriva official at Cardiff Central to see the mistakes for himself.

Two days later, the wrong times were still on display.

timetable at Cardiff Central showing correct times

Sticky times

Finally on October 4th, we noticed this sticky label has been fixed to the timetables – displaying for the first time the correct, full timetable to Fishguard.

It only took three weeks.

But don’t get carried away with enthusiasm. On the same day at Paddington, one of Britain’s busiest stations, Fishguard Trains found the times displayed for our service have not been updated in any way since the new service began. The only trains shown are just the two former boat trains. No mention of the connecting services from Paddington that leave at 12:45 and 15:15.

This performance by the rail industry is lamentable. It may not matter to important rail planners in big cities, but to us in Fishguard it could mean the difference between a sustainable service and a failing service.


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5 Responses to Timetables? Wales 1, England 0

  1. Rhydgaled

    Agreed, they should really get their timetables up to date. Congratulations on getting the timetables at Cardiff Central sorted.

    Unfortunatly there are even more worrying issues locally. I’ve e-mailed Richards Bros about the very poor availability of public transport for long distance journeys to/from north Pembrokeshire (specifically north of Newport). As I’ve said before, a bus connection from the last train into Fishguard to Cardigan would transform a 14:48 latest departure from Cardiff into a 17:39 latest departure. Incidently, the later journey would be 51mins shorter. Anyway, the worrying issue is highlighted by Richards Bro’s responce:

    “The number of passengers we have carried to and from the harbour since the 12th September are very disappointing and the cost extending the service to Cardigan in the evening would probably be too expensive”.

    Doesn’t sound like locals have recived the use it or lose it message. Alternativly, this could be because of the lack of any bus provision for the late train (and no bus link to north of Newport from the 15:14 Cardiff – Fishguard either). If so, how on earth do we pursuade pontential passengers to use a service that doesn’t exist so that providing said service can be justified? I’m back at university now after the summer break so don’t have much spare time but if anyone has any good suggestions how to do that I’d like to try to help.

    • Spad

      The Faber Maunsell study of the business case for enhanced rail services west of Swansea agreed with previous research which projected some 20,000 extra journeys p.a. from extra Fishguard services. And with that figure, Fishguard was agreed to have one of the strongest business cases for new services in England and Wales!
      Of course it is far too early for anyone to say whether we are anywhere near that projection, but that doesn’t stop us all being anxious to know. So – what would 20,000 extra journeys to/from Fishguard look like?
      We have ten extra services, six days a week. That’s 10 x 6 x 52 (give or take bank holidays) = 3120 extra trains a year. For the projected target to be met, that would mean 20000/3120 people on each train – 6.4 people.
      Every train that we’ve been on so far has had more than 6.4 people. Probably the early and late trains run empty. So whatever is going on is not on a completely different planet to the projection.
      Moral – if you are on a train with five other people, we are below target. If you are on a train with six other people, we are beating the target!

  2. Swansea Jack

    The 18:36 arrival a week last Friday (1/10/11) seemed to have more than 40 on it – with 29 passengers for Preseli Venture near Mathry. This week’s service was around 20 although there were no Preseli Venture minibuses on view so perhaps they didn’t have any arrivals this Friday. It is noticeable that the 08:06 to Manchester is also picking up passengers at Clarby Road, Clunderwen and Whitland – there were at least 15 on Wednesday’s 08:06 by Whitland (5/10/11) and a similar number out of Fishguard on the 09:56 train on Saturday morning (8/10/11). The 09:56 seems to be doing better out of Fishguard at present, while we also need to consider the numbers getting on at the other stations as far as Whitland too.

    Re timetable leaflets – it has to be remembered that the 12th of September is not a general timetable change-over date, these happen in mid May and around the 10th of December each year. Although ATW would have changed sheets at their stations, it is unlikely that stations across the network would do so, although it would be nice if they were updated at Paddington and other FGW stations en-route to South Wales in particular.

    The passenger loadings do seem to be increasing week by week, apparently 4 passengers arrived at Fishguard off the 06:42 ex Cardiff on Saturday 8th, so there does seem to be a flow of passengers into West Wales in the morning too.

    Goodwick station will make a difference, and I’ve noticed that signage for buses and taxis at the Harbour have been improved over the last few days too – so thanks to Stena and PCC for that, as well as ATW for getting the departure sheets corrected at Cardiff Central.

    Remember to let anyone you see know about the new trains – I still come across people who arrive at Haverfordwest for onward road transport to the Fishguard area who remain oblivious to the new train service.

    As Jimmy Saville once remarked ‘We’re getting there!’

  3. Rhydgaled

    Your reports sound rather more promising than Richards Bros’, good to hear we’re aproaching target numbers on the trains already. The question then is how are these passengers getting to and from the harbour. I hadn’t expected many to walk or fork out for the high parking charges. I therefore assumed bus patronage would almost equal train patronage, apparently that isn’t the case. Perhaps taxi firms are doing a roaring trade.

    SPAD, do you have a link to the Faber Maunsell study? I’ve been looking for it recently and it no longer seems to be on the SWWITCH website. I haven’t been able to find it using Google either. Have SWWITCH abandoned the service plans it presents? I seem to remember it suggested 2.5 trains per hour between Swansea and Carmarthen.

    I was on the 08:04 on launch day, and it picked up quite a number of passengers at Clunderwen even back then. Does anyone know if the 06:53 Fishguard to Clarbeston Road is doing alright or is it running completly empty every day?

  4. Swansea Jack

    Some are parking in Goodwick and walking down – as the weather deteriorates this will become more of an issue and could become more of a deterrent. Many seem to be getting picked up by friends, family members etc, but I’m sure the high parking charges are acting as a deterrent though. Goodwick station will solve many of these issues so the sooner it is re-opened the better!

    We still need to publicise the new services at any opportunity as we still need to increase the numbers travelling!

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