Question time

ongoing works at Goodwick station site

foundations for the future

A new station starts to appear at Fishguard & Goodwick. Though it’s still mainly groundworks, cabling and foundations, there’s one clear sign that a station is really on its way: the train indicator, standing prominently on the platform. A promise of things to come.

new platform taking shape at Goodwick

when's the next train?

Which leads to many questions. Not just when will the new station open, but several others that have been discussed on Fishguard Trains, and around the twin towns lately.

So here’s a checklist of the queries. And we’ll be looking for answers to them during the coming weeks.

If you have more questions, or think you know the answers, we’d all like to know, so keep commenting.

Fine, so when will the new station open?

Speculation has drifted later as time passes. We started off thinking (hoping) March. Then councillors were invited to a photocall at the station site for March 13th, suggesting an April launch. Then Arriva published its new Network Map showing Fishguard & Goodwick Expected to open Spring/Summer 2012. The new national timetable runs from Monday May 14th, so is it too much to hope that the station will be operating from the start of nationally-published times? If so, that is less than three months ahead, and the spring/summer times need to be published pretty soon.

UPDATE February 24: This National Rail Enquiries page made us sit up. It reveals the station code for Fishguard & Goodwick is FGW, its post code is SA64 0DG , and interestingly it’s a CLOSED STATION. STATION DUE TO REOPEN IN MARCH 2012. Do we believe them? The station clock certainly looks too good to be true.

What will the new service pattern be?

The answer is not as simple as all the existing trains. Firstly, will all the ten extra services continue to the Harbour, or will some terminate and return from Fishguard & Goodwick? Second, will one or two of the boat trains perhaps only call on request at Fishguard & Goodwick?

bus passing Goodwick station

take the bus to the train

Which buses will call at the station, and when?

The whole purpose of Fishguard & Goodwick Station is to be accessible on foot, by car and by bus. It’s a transport hub. Vital if we want a public transport network, and not just disconnected services. We know that buses operate on a mix of commercial and local government funding. But we also know that Welsh Government explicitly promotes integrated transport. So which buses will call? The 410 Town Service of course. What about the 412? Will some or all journeys be re-routed to meet trains? And the 413? And the coastal buses? Including services that currently terminate at Fishguard Square? Many questions there, but unless we see a real shift to joined-up transport provision, we are seriously missing out on a great opportunity. And making the buses connect with the trains is the most immediate way of doing that.

Will train information be displayed at the station bus stops?

We have dedicated bus stops on both sides of the road past the station. We hope to see bus indicator signs go up. How sensible if they also showed train times. And what a good way of advertising to every passing pedestrian and driver that trains are coming and going too.

close-up on station works

view from the steps

What will they do with that brick shed?

Apart from repair it and close it off, that is. We’ve seen many suggestions on Fishguard Trains. No one is going to invest until the service becomes permanent, though eventually Pembrokeshire CC are obliged to provide a quality building to replace the demolished station – it’s in a Conservation Area. But what about now and for the next few years? What complementary uses would be welcomed by rail travellers?

Any ticket facilities?

Seems a hopeless case. Haverfordwest has the only ticket office in the county, and Carmarthen has the only ticket machine in the west. Perhaps we’ll say that again: Carmarthen Station has the only ticket machine in west Wales. Is that really the best we can do?

Station signs …

Presumably there will be a prominent sign at the station entrance. But what about pointers in the centre of Fishguard, and at main junctions? Who decides how many and where? The more, the merrier, we would have thought.

Car parking?

The station seems to have more than enough space. As the only station with a car park between Haverfordwest and Aberystwyth, this should be a major feature, attracting park and ride drivers from a wide area of west Wales. Just a few details to clear up: will it be free to rail travellers? Will there be CCTV? Lighting? Cycle stands?

That’s enough to be getting on with. Now to find some answers!

 

3 Comments

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3 Responses to Question time

  1. DBJ

    Welcome back! Been checking for updates every few days, got sick of seeing the level crossings story! 🙂

  2. Rhydgaled

    I agree with you DBJ, I’ve checked back very many times since the level crossings waiting for news.

    Fine, so when will the new station open?
    I’ve had an April opening suggested to me, though as you say it would make sense to open it at the timetable change. Would it be plausible that they could have an official unveiling/opening ceremony in April to mark the completion of the works even if trains don’t actually start to call until the new timetable starts?

    What will the new service pattern be?
    In my opinion there isn’t really any point in extending services (other than the two boat trains) to the harbour, unless you want to run them all to the harbour just in case new ferry services start.

    The night boat train certainly could stop on request only, if at all (it isn’t a service for locals, so need it stop at the station for locals?) Every other passenger service, whether it also serves the harbour or not, should definitely call (and not just on request) in my opinion. It is probably too late to make any real differences to the timetable at the upcoming change (other than adding the stop), but I would like to suggest some changes (primarily getting rid of the changes at Clarbeston Road) in the December change. More details when I’ve ironed out the bugs.

    Which buses will call at the station, and when?

    As you say, the buses operate on a mix of commercial and local government funding. That opens up a right can of worms. The 413 I believe is subsidised, yet the 410 isn’t and the routes overlap. In trying to improve Ceredigion bus services, I recently discovered that it is illegal for councils to subsidise routes that operate along routes that are operated commercially. How then does the 413 get away with it? I guess it helps that the same operator runs both, but in Ceredigion there’s also the new Bwcabus fixed service to Lampeter from Cribbyn, which I think covers some of Arriva’s new commercial route 40.

    As well as the 07:00 412 service from Cardigan in the mornings (which passed Fishguard & Goodwick anyway) I think the 17:45 Haverfordwest to Cardigan bus (the last bus of the day to Cardigan at present) should be diverted to connect with the 15:14 from Cardiff, and the 19:45 should be diverted to connect with the 20:30 train arrival. Ideally the 19:45 should be extended to Cardigan too, which would make the 17:45 the second to last bus from Haverfordwest to Cardigan rather than the last.

    Other than the 412, I hope Richards Bros and the council develop a major recast of the bus services in question. Primarily, I hope there a redesigned 410 service that connects well with both the 412s that don’t divert to Goodwick and the trains is possible.

    Unfortunately the 413 does not currently run late enough to provide a connection from either of the evening trains. If the 08:50 from St. Davids ran a bit later it could connect with the 09:56, although it would probably then miss the 412 connection. On the plus side, the 12:35 from St. Davids connects with the boat train if you don’t mind going via the harbour (it’d be around a 13minute wait if you wait to catch it on the way back out). Other than that, it looks like it’d take a complete timetable recast to sort connections (of course if the new building is fully enclosed and we are allowed to use it (for free) as a waiting room then connections don’t have to be so neat).

    In the long run (with a clockface 2-hourly train service) it’d be great to have the 413 replaced by a 2-hourly clockface St. Davids – Cardigan (maybe even Aberystwth) TrawsCambria service. This would replace alternate 412s north of Fishguard, with connections to/from Haverfordwest being provided at Fishguard Town Hall in those hours and through Cardigan – Haverfordwest buses in the other hours.

    The coastal buses would need to run the same timetable all year round (though likely with fewer days of operation in winter). The first Poppit Rocket from Cardigan should certainly run a little earlier so it can be extended to the new station (perhaps even right into the station yard, since it would be terminating, rather than passing on the road) to meet the 09:56 train. Also, perhaps the last Poppit Rocket service (currently 6pm from Fishguard Town Hall) could run quite a bit later to connect with the 412 bus that meets the 15:14 from Cardiff.

    Clear bus information at the station itself is also important, and it is a shame the bus indicators outside Fishguard town hall seem incompatible with your idea of displaying the trains on them (I just don’t think there’s enough room to explain that it is a train to Cardiff over at Goodwick, not a bus to Cardiff from the town hall).

    Any ticket facilities?

    Did you take the suggestion of a ticket machine in Fishguard town hall to anyone? I suppose one for Haverfordwest (or extended ticket office hours there) would have to come first though.

    • Paul

      Really good to see the developments. Was in fishguard tourist office on Sunday and was told “probably” April for opening. However nothing official.

      With regards to whether the current trains will all extend to FGH – had a look at the NRT timetable, put in 23rd May, and it shows the current timetable is more or less the same, with all trains running through to FGH. FGW (Fishguard and Goodwick that is, not the train operator) does not yet appear in the NRT timetable database.

      Again, really good to see this project coming to fruition. Well done to all involved.

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