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?



Filed under News & weather

3 Responses to Lost again: a Fishguard train

  1. Rhydgaled

    As long as they fix the timetable to put the train from Cardiff in before the departure from Whitland to Fishguard, it should hopefully not be a problem. They really should be more careful though, the number of mistakes they have made with timetables for the Fishguard service is begining to get rediculus. Well done Fishguard Trains / SPAD for spotting the error and informing ATW.

    The 09:07 from Whitland to Fishguard can’t really be a ‘shuttle’ can it, since the 08:04 still goes to Manchester, doesn’t it? hence the unit that runs the 09:07 to Fishgaurd has to come from somewhere futher east, not from Fishguard. While it does still detach, I have read at least one report of one of the units being attached at Carmarthen instead of coming right through as it is supposed to. Perhaps having it shown as change at Whitland is safer than saying there’s a through service then occasionally failing to manage to provide that.

  2. Swansea Jack

    The big issue is that the train it connects out of is shown after it – and on the next page. I note that National Rail Enquiries does show that the train connects out of the 06:42 Cardiff at Whitland which is something, but it is a big concern for those that rely on a paper copy of the timetable. I would also expect them to sort out the downloadable pdf version of timetable 3 on their own website asap, even if it is too late to change the print run now.

    I notice that the present timetable’s similar issue with the 07:09 Pembroke Dock to Swansea (arrive 09:22) being shown after the 09:28 Swansea to Paddington has been sorted for the December to may one.

    Rhydgaled as far as whether the 06:42 runs with 2 portions from Cardiff or Hereford, or whether the Fishguard portion gets added at Carmarthen, I understood that it generally ran with the two combined from Cardiff (or Hereford) on Weekdays, but the Fishguard portion was added at Carmarthen on Saturdays, unless there were other out of course issues involved.

    The other shame is that (Fishguard &) Goodwick station with a ‘this station may open during the currency of this timetable’ note doesn’t appear in the timetable from December 11th, so another advertising opportunity has been lost, especially as the station now seems to be planned for opening in March, which is well inside the currency of the new timetable!

  3. Anthony

    On wekdays it is always 2 class 153’s or a 150 & 153 however on 98% of saturdays I have seen the 06:42 departure from Cardiff to Pembroke Dock/Fishguard Harbour formed of a single 153 til it arrived into Swansea/Carmarthen where another unit is attached.

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