Lost again: a Fishguard train

extract from Arriva autumn 2011 timetable

before ...

The TimeTABLE Lords have struck again! Another precious Fishguard train has gone missing from the timetable.

Arriva’s winter timetable, starting this month and running to May 2012, has lost a through train from Hereford, Cardiff and Swansea, apparently replacing it with a shuttle from Whitland with a wait of over one hour at that station.

Here is the morning service as shown in the autumn 2011 timetable. Leaving Hereford at 5:25, it provides a through service right across Wales, from Abergavenny to Fishguard, leaving Cardiff at 6:42, Swansea at 7:50 and Carmarthen at 8:45, to reach Fishguard at 9:46.

At our end of the line it may not be the most heavily used of our new services during winter, but come spring and summer, it will be one of the most attractive services for our tourist industry to promote to visitors from south-east Wales and beyond. A through train to Fishguard arriving in time for a full day ahead: that is a valuable asset. But what has happened to the service in Arriva’s winter-spring 2012 timetable?

... and after

Here is the new service – just a shuttle from at Whitland at 9:07, reaching Fishguard at 9:46. To use this service from anywhere further east, it seems you have to leave Cardiff at 5:39, Swansea at 6:53. And you have to wait for 1 hour 7 minutes at Whitland.

What on earth is going on?

If you turn over from page 25 in the new timetable, on the next page there’s a train from Cardiff and points east that reaches Whitland at 8:59, continuing to Pembroke Dock. If you catch this train – shown LATER in the timetable, you will be in Whitland in time for the 9:07 shuttle to Fishguard. But who looks later in a timetable for an earlier train?

Fishguard Trains asked Arriva what’s changed. We suspected nothing, and this is just another timetable error. We were right. We asked “Why does a later train from Whitland appear on an earlier page?”

This is due to the software that is used to input the timetable information. It will automatically sort by certain locations. This software is programmed by Network Rail and I have brought your concerns to the attention of our Service Planning Assistant for their reference.

We wondered if Arriva was aware this will affect passengers wanting information on connections from Cardiff etc to Fishguard?

This service will still provide a connection off the 06.42 Cardiff Central to Pembroke Dock service.

We suspected that the “connection” was actually the through service that separates into Pembroke and Fishguard sections at Whitland:

Yes, the services will continue to detach at Whitland to Fishguard Harbour

So if this is still a through service from Cardiff to Fishguard, shouldn’t the timetable show it as such?

Again, this is down to the software that is used. When Network Rail changed their systems last year all attaching/detaching trains have to manually entered, and our Service Planning Assistant needs to be made aware of them. This issue has been brought to the attention of our Train Planning Team.

Arriva hoped that this has addressed our concerns. But has it?



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