Nothing against Trecwn, but …

bus shelter at Trecwn

when's the next passenger?

We’ve nothing against Trecwn (population 350), but if you regularly take the 412 on its 33 mile route between Cardigan, Fishguard and Haverforwest, you’re going to see quite a lot of this remote Preseli village.

deserted bus stop outside closed RNAD at Trecwn


Once Trecwn bustled with life, around the vast RNAD base. That ended with closure in the early 90s. Today it’s hard to see passenger numbers justify the slow detour through Trecwn, still made by the 412 off its long-distance route.

We wouldn’t mention it, but with regular rail services about to restart at Goodwick after a half century break, if the 412 diverts anywhere, shouldn’t it be diverting to pass the new station at Fishguard and Goodwick?

All but one of Fishguard main bus services pass the station in Goodwick. Not so the 412. It makes one daily visit, but otherwise comes no closer than Fishguard Square, a half hour walk, and very poorly connected by the 410 town bus.

If all 412 trips passed the station, the rail service would be more accessible to everyone up the Pembrokeshire coast as far as Cardigan. The diversion would benefit two thousand Goodwick residents, plus several thousand more north-east of Fishguard.

So a question for Richard Brothers: what is the business case for diverting via Trecwn compared to diverting via Goodwick? And a question for Pembrokeshire County Council: what is the social case for diverting via Trecwn compared to diverting via Goodwick?


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18 Responses to Nothing against Trecwn, but …

  1. DBJ

    Just been chatting to one of the builders on F&G site. The bus shelter and dot matrix display are up, but yes the main building will be a waiting area and Cafe, with the fence in front having gates in. The conservation guidelines are quite strict, its going to be wooden cladded as before, with cladding, windows and roof section being specially made. The area surrounding the station is also council owned, so there is supposed to be business units put in as well. When I asked for a completion date, he shrugged his shoulders, “it was supposed to be first of March, we told them that was no chance of that!”

    • Rhydgaled

      I think there was a proposal for an intermodal frieght terminal on the F&G station site at one point. The impression I got was that it would be in connection with some works at the old RNAD site at Trecwn, perhaps an overflow/marshaling yard since there is little space at Goodwick to fit many sidings. No idea how that would have worked, or if it is still on the cards, but there were definiatly two proposed frieght terminals on the Fishguard line on the map in Network Rail’s November 2008 Wales RUS.

  2. Swansea Jack

    The proposed building of business units sounds a good idea as it would provide improved vigilance to the site with people around during the day etc. It would be great if a tenant for a cafe could be found, but there are many stations that struggle to keep businesses like that going even with greater throughput than Goodwick will get. It would be great if the site gained something luke the famous Stalybridge Buffet near Manchester though – it would become a destination in its own right then!

  3. DBJ

    Just seen the early early evening arrival into Fishguard…very healthy loadings, one carriage pretty much full!

  4. Rhydgaled

    Another question, what would be the enviromental impact of not serving Trecwn with a bus service? How many extra car journeys would that result in? Also I think it is still only about half of 412 services that go via Trecwn, far more go via Mathry Road (although I suppose the purpose of that might be to improve the coverage of Letterston).

    Diverting a 412 to connect with the boat train doesn’t look like it would work but if you wanted (not sure if there’s any need if you retime and extend the morning Poppit Rocket and run it all year round) you could divert the 9am from Cardigan wich would then be at Goodwick at 09:46 (just about a connection into the 09:56). Northbound, the 17:45 and 19:45 412 services might connect into the inbound evening trains if you diverted them. However you are possibly looking at upsetting what remains of the clockface pattern at the later stops on the route, if you are happy to do that then perhaps you can timetable a trip to meet the boat train too.

  5. Swansea Jack

    What we need is a reason for the 412 to go via Mathry Road rather than just to serve lower Letterston. I realise the old station yard is now in private hands, but the old coal yard across the road would make a nice park and ride, and the old up line formation would be great for a platform – with a nice long ramp up from the car park……

    St Clears could do with a station too – that place has grown somewhat since the 1960s too.

    • Rhydgaled

      I’m not sure where Mathry Road station was, but I assume it is where the 412 (heading towards Haverfordwest) has the railway embankment on the right, then turns left at a T-junction with the right turn going under the railway. If so, what area do you think it would serve since you propose reopenning it? I don’t think I’ve got the right place though, since it doesn’t seem to meet your discription.

      If the object of reopenning Mathry Road is to try to serve Letterston, I’ve always said reopenning Wolfscastle would probablly be better. That’s because I doubt either station is within walking distance of Letterston and catching the 412 to Wolfscastle is moving in the right direction (unless you want to go to Goodwick) while Mathry Road, if it’s where I think it is, isn’t.

      St. Clears could probablly do with a station as you say, but with another A40 bypass planned and a new express alignment proposed for the A477 all the way to Red Roses the railway really needs speeding up.

      • DBJ

        The old Mathry Road station site is about a mile east of Letterston, on the road to Mathry funnily enough, although the boundaries of Letterston have enlarged over the years so it is even closer to it’s eastern fringes. It would make quite a good option for a station to serve that village, and they could put a cycle/foot path down to it, it is certainly closer than Saundersfoot station is to it’s namesake! Wolfscastle still has the old platform there however, so in some ways it would be better to re-open there first, but the main road to it is a lot less safe to walk along!

  6. Swansea Jack

    The thing about Mathry road is that it would provide a railhead not just for Letterston, only a mile away, but also the area North and West of there towards Mathry etc. It was felt in the consultant reports that because the old station yard had been sold that it couldn’t reopen, but cross the main road and that long thin field used to be a coal yard. That could become the car park for park and ride, and the platform could be located on the embankment on the old up line formation. The biggest issue would be to provide a step-free ramp up from the car park, but similar zig-zags exist elsewhere.

    I’d say the problem with Wolfs Castle would be the lack of suitable car parking space – also it you had to drive as far as there going on to H’West wouldn’t be much of an issue.

    For St Clears I’d envisage the Fishguard services would call – hopefully giving a Eastbound in the morning, 1 Westbound and 2 Westbound in the evening 1 Eastbound (hopefully the C.Road starter in hte evening couyld start back from Carmarthen connecting out of the 19:35 Swansea – Carmarthen for example.

    A stop by a P.Dock or two in the middle of the day would suffice for starters without slowing down the Milford services which need to be speeded up rather than slowed down so as to compete with the A40/A48 route. The Fishguard services compete well against road travel so the extra 2 stops shouldn’t be too much of a dis-benefit, unlike the Milford trains.

    The Pembroke dock trains need speeding up by sorting out the TMO level crossings West of Tenby, which would also avoid the need for trains to sit at the Dock for 50 minutes every 2 hours, and would release capacity on the route for specials to Tenby – something that is almost impossible to path at present (except on Sunday mornings).

    • Steve

      Used to travel regularly from Mathry Road to Goodwick in the fifties and early sixties before Beeching wielded his axe. A fair walk from the lower part of Letterston to the station but not excessive. The old station yard provided adequate parking and good sloping access to the up platform. The down line platform had a wooden stairway down to a pedestrian gate on the main road but was rarely used, as passengers had to buy tickets on the up platform. Crossing the track was by a pedestrian crossing at rail level – made up of ill fitting sleepers if my memory serves me right. The narrow strip on the other side of the road was originally used for cattle pens but by the early sixties was used by a local farmer for hay and straw storage in the disused pens. The coal yard was above the up line platform, served by two sidings, just below the station master’s house. The ideal solution would be to purchase the privately owned old station yard. I can recall being told that bus services were run from Mathry Road to Mathry and St. David’s after the station opened, but couldn’t compete with services from Haverfordwest.

  7. Anthony

    I deally with teh Pemrboke dock branch is another passing loop maybe perhaps between Tenby & Pembroke Dock along with an increase in linespeed.

    During the peaks and in the summer there could be an hourly service on the line which would be usefull if through summer saturday services from London Paddington are withdrawn following the introduction of IEP

  8. Swansea Jack

    You don’t need the expense of a loop at Manorbier – all you need to do is to upgrade the level crossings – Manorbier, Manorbier Newton and the one outside Pembroke Dock – then you’d speed up the service sufficiently so that Whitland – Pembroke Dock and return takes comfortably less than 2 hours.

    The service could then cross East of Whitland leaving time for extra services to Tenby in the form of charters or extra services in the Summer. I doubt you’d need an hourly Pembroke Dock service for the foreseeable future, although if you speeded up the service you might increase loadings somewhat to make a more regular service a possibility.

  9. Rhydgaled

    Your suggestion that Mathry road could provide a railhead for the area towards Mathry is restricting things to car travel. If an improved 413/Strumble Shuttle service can be provided, connecting well with trains, then Fishguard & Goodwick becomes a railhead for some of that area anyway.

    The attraction of Wolfscastle in my opinion is that it is right next to the bus route and heading in what I’d guess is the right direction for most Letterston passengers. That would then allow the 412 to focus on rail connections to Milford Haven at Haverfordwest rather than eastbound connections (ideally of course it would connect in both directions, but the trains would need to be timed specially for that to work).

    Having considered your posts, I’m now of the opinion that their might not be a sufficent catchment population for re-openning either Mathry Road or Wolfscastle, but because Wolfscastle is a bus link rather than a car link I’d still support that over Mathry Road if there is in fact a case for trying to serve Letterston.

    I was slightly supprised to hear that the Milford services compete with the A40 route less effectivly than the Fishguard services, but the AA jounrey planner seems to confirm that. Fishguard’s still 51/54mins to Carmarthen (all current stops) compared to the AA’s claimed road journey time of 1hr 3mins though, not exactly that much of an advantage for rail. Assuming the faster of the two rail times is achivable in both directions and an extra station (St. Clears) adds 2mins that’s 53 minutes.

    Make the Fishguard every two hours and perhaps 4 minutes (Clunderwen and Clarbeston Road) could be dropped from the Milford services (would that allow 90mph running between Whitland and Clarbeston Road, saving more time?) Still, 4 minutes saving still leaves Carmarthen – Milford at 56mins, against a claimed 53minutes by car. But what of the Fishguard boat train, which several of us agreed in a discussion a while back shouldn’t gain Clunderwen or Clarbeston Road stops? Do Clunderwen and Clarbeston Road get a 4-hour gap or does the Milford line get slowed down again?

    The Pembroke Line is the worst, with Tenby – Carmarthen being 46mins against the car’s 37, and 1hr 20ish on CMN – Pembroke Dock (car 47mins, and the St. Clears – Red Roses scheme will cut that still further if it isn’t stopped).

    I can’t find it right now, but I seem to remember reading once that somebody though fixing the level crossings wouldn’t actually be enough for an hourly service on the Pembroke & Tenby, and even closing several of the request stops on top of that wouldn’t do it either. That could be plain wrong, but perhaps if it is true then electric trains, being faster accelerating, could be the answer. Personally I’d like to see a 3rd rail installed and the 3-CIG ‘Freshwater’ (the line does come fairly close to Freshwater East beach, though perhaps not quite within walking distance) withdrawn from the Lymington branch used, but that’s far-fetched even for me, it’ll never happen.

  10. Anthony

    Carmarthen – Milford Haven can be done easily in 54 minutes by the class 175s

    The main problems being the single track Milford Haven branch with just 1 passing place at Haverfordwest and.

    If this is sorted and linesp[eeds increased I can see the class 175’s being able to do Carmarthen – Milford Haven in 50 minutes with an EMU reducing the journey time even more.

    The Pembroke branch is twisty in parts which doesnt help things you could reduce journey times between Tenby & Pembroke dock by about 6 minutes if the level crossings were closed or modified.

    Another problem is the door positions on the class 153’s the pacers manage to keep to time very well on the branch and can even arrive early into Tenby or Whitland.

    the boat train has managed to do Fishguard Hbr – Carmarthen in 41 minutes non stop between Fishguard & Whitland so a stop at Fishguard & Goodwick would only add 1 or 2 minutes to that journey time

  11. Anthony

    Been told that we should see the new timetables available from mid april and that it looks like all the trains will run to Fishguard Hbr stn.

    Anyway the 14:45 Cheltenham -Maesteg is normally a class 158 so I am wondering if a 158 will be used to work the 14:40 Gloucester – Fishguard Hbr service which would be nice especially since it will run fast between Cardiff & Swansea although this means that the 17:05 Milford Haven departure from Swansea is now at 17:35.

    ATW do seem to be really streching their fleet to provide extra capacity during the summer season especially with the olympics on and some events being held in Cardiff although doesnt seem to be any chance of someclass 150’s being hired out to FGW to give them extra capacity.

    Hopefully once teh summer is over ATW may be able to get enough stock to extend some of the Fishguard Hbr – Claberston Road services through to Carmarthen/Swansea perhaps even attaching to a Pembroke Dock – Swansea service@ Whitland if required.

  12. Swansea Jack

    It would appear that the plan is that the 12:30 Manchester Piccadilly to Milford Haven service has been speeded up and so will cover the 16:40 slot West of Swansea rather than the old 17:05, while the 15:14 Cardiff runs only to Swansea. The Fishguard is formed of the Cheltenham – Maesteg which now becomes a 14:35 Gloucester to Fishguard, meaning a 16:04 departure from Cardiff and 17:05 from Swansea with it arriving in Goodwick station at 18:46 and the Harbour at 18:51. This should give a connection from London Paddington at 13:45 rather than the old 12:45 and with a connection time at Cardiff of 18 minutes, or 22 at Swansea. Would be great if that was a 158 – especially as it forms the busy 17:05 from Cardiff.

    So Milford Haven line passengers get a journey speeded up by 25 minutes, while Cardiff to Goodwick goes from 3 hours 15 minutes(to the Harbour) to 2 hours 42 minutes to the new station!! Without considering the 10 minute saving in walking time from the Harbour that makes the journey 33 minutes faster! From London the savings are even better 5 hours 44 minutes becomes 5 hours and 1 minute – a saving of 43 minutes – well done ATW!!

    Other train times seem to remain the same except there that the 07:09 Pembroke Dock to Swansea continues to Cardiff, which is another improvement for trains serving Pembrokeshire – nice to see something positive for all 3 routes!

    • Rhydgaled

      I probablly won’t get my head around the detail of the changes properly until I see them in full timetable form but it seems the only drawback is the first evening train from Cardiff arrives into Fishguard at 18:46 rather than 18:30. That means a stationary delay, rather than just a diversion, would be needed for the last bus to Cardigan to connect out of the service. The best solution I can think of for that is have the bus that currently connects with the 18:30 arrival at the harbour run an 18:35 from Fishguard town hall to Newport instead, providing passengers on that 412 bound for Newport/Dinas Cross/Lower Fishguard the option of changing at the town hall to get home sooner rather than going via Goodwick on the 412 to meet the train.

  13. Anthony

    I know and dont you mean 17:05 from Swansea swansea Jack.

    The 07:09 Pembroke Dock – Swansea service extending to Cardiff calling at PYle at 10:09 will be ideal for passengers from Pyle as the previous departure from Pyle at 09:44 is normally a class 153 from Shrewsbury via the Heart Of Wales line as is always packed by the time it arrives at Pyle with passengers having to be left behind at times.

    It also means that the 08:04 Fishguard Hbr – Manchester service will not need to make an additional stop at Pyle which it has had to done a couple of time of late to pick up passengers because of the 09:44 departuyrre from Pyle being cancelled etc.

    I still don’t know why the 14:35 Gloucester – Fishguard needs to leave at 14:35 why couldnt it leave at 14:55 like it does anyway as it arrives into Cardif at 16:01 so it wont have to sit in Cardiff for at least 12 minutes.

    I read that with the olympics in London this summer it could help boost tourism in Wales & Scotland as a lot of people will want to avoid the south east of England so these additional trains to/from Fishguard& the new station couldn’t have come at a better time and provides an ideal opportunity for the local area to promote itself.

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