Thirteen days …

Fishguard and Goodwick station sign

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In just thirteen days, Wales will have a new first: a reopened station on a rural railway line.

So far all the successful station openings have been in urban Wales – Ebbw Vale, Rhoose, Maesteg, Pyle. There has been nothing like the launch of a complete new service, and now a complete new station on a heritage site, all to serve a rural and coastal area, and one of the smallest towns in Wales.

 

general view of platform at Fishguard and Goodwick

switched on in 13 days

Fishguard Trains has just come from a meeting with stakeholders where the talk could not have been more enthusiastic and confident. As you’d expect, all attention is on the reopened station. It will remove a huge barrier to use of the new service, and bring local and long-distance rail services to the heart of the twin towns, and an ideal access point for  Pembrokeshire’s world-famous Coast Path.

preparing timber cladding at the station building

knotting

So with thirteen days to go, here is a sneak preview of final work to prepare our new station.

The timber-clad building receives attention before being painted – in cream, we’re told. We’ll continue to debate whether the restored building does justice to its historic predecessor, but the fact is to have these buildings at all is a big asset – now we should put heads together to make it a valuable destination in its own right, as is done at other rural stations.

station buildings facing the car park

job for a painter

This is the side of the station buildings facing the car park.

What would you like to find inside in future?

Tourist information?

Tea and buns?

Cycle hire?

Local craft stalls?

Railway heritage display?

Walkers’ gear for sale?

under the scaffolding around the building

final fix

The time for ideas is now.

Along the platform stands the ‘bus shelter’.

At least this one doesn’t prevent you getting on the train, the way the new bus shelter on the opposite side of Station Hill blocks entrance to the bus. We hear that plans are in hand to move that shelter where it belongs.

view of station and car park

park and ride

This is one of the most welcome features of Fishguard and Goodwick: a station that is accessible for drivers, for Coast Path ramblers, for pedestrians from Goodwick and Fishguard, for bus users, and for disabled travellers.

destination signs

coming and going

And here’s what must be the most under-stated sign in Fishguard. If you’re heading to Fishguard Harbour, your real destination is going to be Wexford, Waterford, Dublin. If you’re heading via Clarbeston Road, you’ll be travelling to Swansea, Cardiff, Manchester, London.

So in thirteen days, just pick your destination, turn up, and travel!

26 Comments

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26 Responses to Thirteen days …

  1. Swansea Jack

    Great pictures there! A really positive development for the twin towns, and great to see the name Fishguard & Goodwick back on the rail map of the UK after 48 long years. In terms of re-openings the last I can think of in Pembrokeshire was Penally back in the early 1970s, for the Summer seasons only in 1970 and 1971, but fully from February 28th 1972 – over 40 years ago! With the price of road fuel and increasing concerns about the environment the time is now right for this re-opening, so lets all pull together to make it the success it should be, especially after the years of hard work put in by so many people.

    I do hope 5that the station building can become a destination in its own right – how about a Goodwick version of Stalybridge’s station buffet bar – a really great venue. Some of the other suggestions would be good too, and with the Marina development on the horizon that building will hopefully be in a prime location in a short time!

  2. anthony

    I agree with Swansea jack about the new building being a possible cafe/bar although the problem would be how many people would use it especially say some traveling on the ferry when I believe there are facilities at Fishguard Harbour station.

    Hopefully Fishguard & Goodwick will become a bit like Pyle has and be a railhead for surrounding area’s like Pyle is for Porthcawl and the
    surrounding villiages especially with the free parking and a 30 minutly frequency during the peaks.

    I do hope the local bus timetables will show Fishguard & Goodwick station on their timetables.

    Still I think a congratulations has to be given for all the hard work that has been done by everyone to get the station to where it is now and lets hope the local come to give their support on open day and every day after that to use the new train service.

    That said who decided to just have one of the signs saying trains to Claberston Road, It would have been much better in they had said:

    Trains to: Claberston Road/Carmarthen/Swansea

  3. DBJ

    All looks great! I wonder what the residents of Milford Haven will make of all this? There have been calls to do something with their barren station for a while now, maybe these images of F&G getting the kind of building that they should have will spur some action! Who do you think we should email the link to 😉

  4. Swansea Jack

    Shame there isn’t a South Pembrokeshire Transport Forum isn’t it!!

    The Pembs Rail Travellers Association are aware of the work being done at Goodwick – and Milford Haven is close to their HQ!

  5. Rhydgaled

    I think I’ve said enough about the new building not doing justice to its historic predecessor for now, so I’ll refrain from mentioning it further in this post.

    First and foremost, I will again comment on the lack (as I see it) of facilities for bus users at the new station. There’s probably no way everything can connect nicely and unless it does some passengers will be put off if there isn’t a waiting room. For bus passengers, if FGW doesn’t have a waiting room and toilets the harbour station is probably still going to be a better bet. Even the timetables on the bus stops outside don’t show the station, so it is unclear which buses actualy pass those stops (not everything that passes the Tesco express down the hill also passes the station bus stops).

    So, what would I put in the new building? Number one on the list is to provide a windproof, waterproof, waiting area for bus+rail passengers, although this could be put in the brick shed (which, given concerns of vandalism raised by other comments, might be a better idea). Second would be decent public toilets, with half the new building (it seemed to be divided in two internally when I had a look) used for a railway heritage display, which somebody has suggested on this website before. I think relocating the tourist information and cafe from the Ocean Lab building into the other half of the station building if and when the marina development happens would also be a good plan.

    anthony – In my opinion the sign that says trains to Clarbeston Road should say trains towards Carmarthen, Swansea and Cardiff. Even Fishguard/Goodwick residents are unlikely to know where Clarbeston Road is, unless they have an interest in the area’s railways.

    DBJ – Unless Fishguard & Goodwick station gains a waiting room in one of the two buildings, I doubt there’d be much point emulating Goodwick at Milford Haven. If Fishguard & Goodwick does get a waiting room, as I hope it will, then I hope Whitland station will follow suit (they don’t even need to build a structure there, all that’s needed is a bit of a cleanup and taking the boards off the windows) hell I’ll have a few weeks holiday starting at the end of May and I might be willing to volunteer to help with that. After Whitland, Pembroke, Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock are all worth looking at, but are they potential public-transport interchange points?

  6. Swansea Jack

    Sorry Rhydgaled, I think your aspirations are unrealistic in today’s climate. We can hope that a cafe or similar would open up in the building which could then serve the function of an enclosed waiting area, with toilets as you wish. However if you look at the facilities in Carmarthen with their far higher throughput of passengers the Coracle doesn’t remain open into the evening period etc.

    The replacement building is clearly not part of the station, which is why it is the other side of the fence for starters and its erection probably has more to do with conservation area legal requirements, and PCC having one eye on the future redevelopment of that part of Goodwick through the Marina and other business unit developments. than to provide a potential waiting room.

    I appreciate what you say about passengers waiting for connections being put off by the lack of an enclosed, heated area, and that is what is provided at the Harbour station at present. Facilities provided match the passenger flows, and even though it would be great to see a fully staffed station, that is not going to happen for 7 return trips a day, and basically hasn’t been affordable for many a long year.

    As long as the public in the UK want to aspire to USA levels of taxation we will never be able to afford European levels of public services.

    We have a wonderful new facility that is at the upper limit of what we could expect, and with the potential that if someone comes along who wishes to start a cafe business in the building, or if the TIC / Ocean Lab gets moved there when the Marina develops, then we could well get something to which you call for.

    Of course you could always contact the council and start up a cafe business yourself which would solve the problem, especially if you extended the opening hours from say 06:30 to 21:00hrs.

    • Rhydgaled

      A cafe would be nice, but is not a solution to the problem. You can hardly just sit there and not buy anything, and as you say the openning hours would make it almost useless for my purpose of giving those willing to give up their car somewhere out of the wind and rain to wait between non-connecting bus and rail services.

      If they had demolished the brick shed, and didn’t build a replacment station building, then I might agree a waiting room was unrealistic. However, the capital costs for a waiting facility at F&G are almost covered, and I’m not suggesting permenant staffing so the running costs would be next to nothing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heated even, though that would be ideal, just fully enclosed to keep the wind and rain out. If all the trains are going to and from the harbour then the guard could lock and unlock the waiting room while passing on the morning CMN – FGH ECS and evening FGH – CMN ECS.

  7. DBJ

    On the subject of vandalism, does anyone know what precautions will be taken? I’m not casting dispersions about the youth of Fishguard, but I do have a horrible feeling about potential graffiti on that nice timber surface or bricks through those lovely windows!

  8. Swansea Jack

    Rhydgaled – I’ll have you know that the 21:00 FGH to CMN proves a useful service to me every week or so.

  9. 87J

    Will there be some type of opening ceremony on the 14th May ? On the National Rail timetable website the first train to stop at Goodwick on the 14th will be at 01:53, the Up Boat train, which is not a good time for such an event! For some reason the Down Boat on Monday morning is shown as not stopping; passes at 01:27.

  10. Swansea Jack

    87J – yes there is an official opening ceremony at Goodwick station at 13:00hrs (1pm) on Monday 14th May, organised by Pembs CC who took the lead role in the station rebuilding and reopening. It appears the Chairman of PCC will be in attendance among others, and all being well I should be there too.

    Come along and bring your friends too – lets show the powers that be how much we want this station, which is a critical link in public transport provision for the whole of North Pembrokeshire.

    You could also remind your friends and neighbours to get themselves a Pembrokeshire Railcard, which is available to local residents at £5 and gives 1/3rd off train fares as far as Swansea. In fact a single trip to Swansea would just about repay the investment in the card which is valid for 12months. I use mine regularly as it makes train travel considerably cheaper than driving, and it will hopefully get an airing on this evening’s 15:14 Cardiff to Fishguard service into the Harbour and the 20:50 return.

    It will be interesting to see how many passengers travel on that service arriving into the Harbour at 18:29 this evening considering it is a bank holiday weekend.

    • Rhydgaled

      Does the Pembrokeshire railcard provide any additional benifits to passengers who already have a railcard?

      Also is the West Wales Day Ranger ticket, which allows unlimited travel on all lines West of Carmarthen, sold on trains or do you have to go to Haverfordwest or Carmarthen to get one?

  11. anthony

    Rhydgaled I think you can buy the west wales day ranger on the train although some conducters may not know how to get it up on their ticket machines.

  12. Swansea Jack

    If you have another railcard then I doubt the Pembrokeshire one would be worth it, as its validity is obviously more restricted.

    As far as the West Wales Day Ranger is concerned I can confirm that it is available from on train staff – and I have yet to encounter any conductor unable to issue one on the few that I have bought. One did say that he hadn’t sold one for a while while he was issuing me one though. Remember however that the Pembrokeshire railcard does not give discounts on the West Wales Day Ranger.

    I did notice this evening that the Rose and Crown in Goodwick reopened last night – just in time for the adjacent station reopening too. Time to arrange a pub crawl by train me thinks. Goodwick – Rose & Crown, Glendower and Hope & Anchor, Clarby Road – Thre Cross, Clunderwen – Iron Duke, then the Station hotel in Whitland. Sounds good to me!

    I also noticed that the station building is gaining a nice coat of GWR Cream paint, and the PIS is working, welcoming passengers to (Fishguard &) Goodwick station.

    Nice article in this month’s Modern Railways too – under the heading Goodwick station opens – good to see Rhodri Clark referring to the station by its proper name in the heading at least! ;-)) Nice photo of a 175 passing through the station too! Many thanks Rhodri!

  13. Swansea Jack

    Less than a week to go now!!! Station was looking great a couple of hours ago – about 1 week before it hosts the official opening ceremony.

  14. anthony

    All going to Plan I should be there and I may be lucky enough to bump into someone from here

  15. Rhydgaled

    Why schedule the offical openning for 1pm? I’d like to be on the nearest semi-reasonable train to the first one that calls. For me, that’s the 08:04 from the harbour. My orriginal plan assumed an event would occour around the 09:56 departure from the harbour, as on launch day, so I’d have taken the 08:04 to Whitland then boarded the next train into Fishguard and got off at Fishguard & Goodwick (anyone know if the easement that lets you use a different Pembrokeshire station to the one your ticket says applies here?).

    However, since the openning isn’t until 1pm that’s quite a bit of hanging around, but 1pm is too early if I go further afield on the 08:04 and come into Fishguard & Goodwick on the boat train.

  16. Swansea Jack

    PCC have done the arrangements for this, and decisions about the time frequently have to fit around the availability of the people involved. If there are people coming from further afield then a lunchtime launch is better than one arranged around the 06:42 off Cardiff for example.

    The daytime boat train should be nicely loaded too which will hopefully make for some good photographs, and people from across Pembrokeshire should be able to get to Goodwick by public transport.

    You could always do the 08:04 from the Harbour (or 08:07 from Goodwick) up to Cardiff for the 10:57 back – 9 minutes is enough time to cross from Platform 2 across to 3/4 at Central. If running late you could get off at Bridgend for the 10:59 back to Llanelli and pick up the boat train there! Is that far enough for you?

    My personal opening ceremony will probably be at around 01:53 that morning, although all being well I shall be there for 13:00 too!

    • Rhydgaled

      Aye, I considered taking the 08:04 to Cardiff, but the boat train won’t reach Goodwick til after 13:00. That’s why I thought 13:00 was an odd time to do it, since anyone arriving for the ceremony by rail will need to be on the 06:42 from Cardiff (09:41 arrival at Goodwick, with a long wait before the event).

  17. Swansea Jack

    Fair point! I guess the proceedings will start soon after 13:00 to then tie-in with the arrival of the 10:57 train from Cardiff. After all I hope to see a train cutting across a banner this time!

  18. Swansea Jack

    Scaffolding came down today, painting of white lines tomorrow or Thursday. Looking good now! Final snagging to sort out but all should be good to go from 01:53 on Monday morning – shame the incoming boat train won’t stop. Oh well 01:30 in the Harbour – 10 minutes to walk to Goodwick then wait 12 minutes or so for the arrival of the 01:50 Fishguard Harbour to Swansea.

    I suppose of all the first trains it is appropriate that the old 01:50 should be the first – the times of that have changed little over the years (well the last 30 anyway) and there has been an early morning boat train since 1906, although until the mid-1970s it left a couple of hours later.

  19. Rhydgaled

    ‘What would you like to find inside in future?

    The time for ideas is now.’

    I have written to the council, suggesting a waiting room be provided (either in the new building or the surviving brick structure next to it) to make the station a suitable bus-rail interchange. They said ‘There is a shelter on the platform which is to current industry specifications.’ If that’s true, then current industry specifications are designed only to cater for passengers arriving by car, bike or on foot shortly (about 5mins) before their train. A bus-shelter type afair is no good if you get off a bus with a long wait for the train. They didn’t even seem to take my suggestion for the use of the building on board, saying that ‘The station will be unmanned and use of the replaced station building is subject to further consideration.’ as opposed to saying they would consider my suggestion among the various options.

    I also asked the council about plans for an intermodal frieght facility at Fishguard. Their responce to that part of my letter was ‘There was consideration of intermodal frieght facilities at Fishguard in 2001, however, when evaluated it was not considered viable.’

    At present, I still I hope to be on the 08:04 from Fishguard Harbour to Whitland on May 14th (must be the 5th train to call at Fishguard & Goodwick, and the 4th time the class 175 calls). Not sure what I’ll do after alighting at Fishguard & Goodwick at 09:41, and probably filming/photographing the 09:59 (one miniute before 16-25 railcards are fully valid I think, was that diliberate?) heading off east, but I hope to be back at the station for 1pm to observe the procedings.

  20. Swansea Jack

    Glass half empty again there Rhydgaled. From what I can see we have very successfully gained 5 additional trains each way per day and amazingly PCC/ SWWITCH/ NR/ ATW / WG have found £450,000 of money within months at a time of serious economic difficulties matched only by the great depression of the early 1930s, to provide Goodwick and Fishguard with a station that would be the envy of the vast majority of comparable towns in the UK and you are still not happy.

    You’re effectively looking for a manned facility so that an enclosed waiting room can be provided (you just cannot provide such facilities at an unmanned station and expect them to remain in usable condition!) while many towns with a population multiple times larger haven’t even got any rail facilities at all. Try speaking to the people of Newcastle Under-Lyme (pop. 122,000), Blyth (pop. 36,000), Portishead (pop. 22000), etc, and ask them if they’d be happy with a facility like we will have from Monday!

    Closer to home I’d list Blackwood (23330) and Abertillery (11000) or Tredegar (13000) who would also be overjoyed to receive the facilities we shall enjoy from next week. We have to fight those battles capable of being won and a 1950s style waiting room with a nice welcoming heater is not being realistic in any shape or form. What we need to be doing is encouraging locals and visitors to make use of the excellent facilities on offer; talking down about what we have available serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

    Take a trip to Cardiff Central or Swansea and record the percentage of actual passengers who, on a cold, wet day, actually go and sit inside a waiting room, in comparison to those that are more than happy to sit under a roof out on the platform, and then you might realise that most passengers don’t actually use enclosed, heated rooms even when they are provided. Many people have worked very very hard to provide North Pembrokeshire with the last piece in the Integrated public transport jigsaw with extremely limited levers, financial or otherwise, and personally I see what we have achieved in a very positive light indeed. The way to get improvements is to encourage far higher levels of usage than predicted, both on the trains and on the connecting modes, whether that is buses, cyles or the number of cars in the station car park!

    I am pleased to see the replacement building at Goodwick, and hope that it can have a long and useful life whether as a shop, cafe or tourist information centre, but I do not see it as an integral part of Goodwick station – it is not part of the station platform and plays no part in the required facilities of the station other than providing a great backdrop. I say that as someone who has spent 48 years (my whole life) looking at the old building, and latterly at the new replacement and realising the importance it has had, and will have in the future, to people’s lives and in making Goodwick, Fishguard and North Pembrokeshire integrated into the wider world.

    Intermodal freight is something that would be great to see, and I firmly believe that the time will come when Fishguard will be joined into a European wide network, but I don’t see the time as right at present.

    As far as the railcard issue of 09:59 I think you’d find it far more productive to quietly suggest a dispensation for that train rather than to publicly lambast ATW / NR over the issue. I would say the reason that train leaves Fishguard / Goodwick at that time has far more to do with making a connection into the 11:04 Carmarthen – Manchester than to annoy railcard users. By the way I say that as the person who got a restriction on the use of Freedom of Wales rover tickets on the first Swansea to Shrewsbury via Llandovery lifted back in May 1987 – quietly, via the correct authorities and without any fuss – last time I looked that facility was still there too!

    • Rhydgaled

      I’m not very good at this am I. My writing may give the impression I am still not happy, but I am delighted that we have the additional trains. There’s a way to go before it is an ideal service, but what we have is easily good enough to be going on with for now.

      I agree we have to fight those battles capable of being won, which is why I am not asking for a ticket office or any form of permenant staffing like that, and why I’d settle for a waiting room without a heater if a heater isn’t an option. Also, if there were not two spare buildings on the site asking for a building to be built for a waiting room would not be a battle that could be one, and I’d have to try and get buses diverted to the harbour instead. Maybe you think that should be my avenue of attack anyway?

      What we have on offer is excellent scenery and a decent rail service, which happily will be very accesible on foot and by car from May 14th thanks to our new station. I hope I did not appear to be talking down the facilities for locals who live within walking distance and motorists, which will be great once Fishguard & Goodwick station opens.

      Interestingly, I don’t seem to get cold very much at Cardiff Central, maybe all the buildings provide enough shelter from the wind. However, I’ve needed to retreat inside the waiting room at Carmarthen several times while waiting for onward public transport, and been frozen at Whitland due to the lack of a waiting room almost every time I’ve changed trains there.

      Fishguard & Goodwick is an integrated transport hub, the one fly in the ointment is that it is not an intergrated PUBLIC transport hub. I do tend to dwell on the problems without shouting about what is good, but that does not mean I am unhappy with aspects I am not mentioning much.

      The way to get even more trains at Fishguard’s stations to further improve the now-decent rail service I agree is to encourage far higher levels of usage on the trains we have. I’d like to help with that if I can come up with any ideas how to go about it, and we now have enough trains that (if I accept that nobody is going to use buses to access them) they can be promoted as a useful service.

      The replacement building at Goodwick, at least the last time I saw it (before painting) does not provide the great backdrop it should have. It just does not do the old building justice at all with that modern roof.

      I wasn’t meaning to kick up much of a fuss about the railcard issue, just putting it out there to see if others had noticed and what they think over the issue.

  21. Swansea Jack

    2 days to go – and things are looking good down at Goodwick. The cycle racks are being installed today and the incorrect bus shelter has been re-located on Station Hill. The painting of the building is complete while preparations are ongoing to complete the blacktop surfacing around the structure. ATW have put some posters into the display cases – one on general station information, the other promoting the Pembrokeshire Railcard.

    There is a piece already recorded for transmission on Radio Cymru on Monday morning, and ITV have already been filming down at the station today. It is starting to sink in that Goodwick station is about to be re-opened!!

  22. anthony

    Yes and hopefully come monday ATW will be nice to us and perhaps manage to get one of the class 158’s on the boat train to Fishguard perhaps swap it with an additional class 150 being put on theMaesteg – Cheltenham route

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