Absolutely useless

two timetables published by Fishguard Trains

times in your pocket

One of the pleasures of publishing this website is we get to publish your comments. So here’s a great one just in from Fraser Gardiner:

Hi, Thank goodness you are not responsible for train timetables nationwide. the attempt at the simplification of the timetable is absolutely useless. Fraser

We say two cheers to you, Fraser. Thank goodness we are not responsible for train timetables nationwide. It frees us  to publish the timetables we think people travelling from Fishguard really need.

It also means we are not responsible for the kind of mess that the national timetable publishers make of our times (what do we mean? Click on INDEX, scroll to INFORMATION PROBLEMS, and read ten stories about errors with Fishguard times.)

But you don’t get a third cheer, Fraser, as we’re not convinced that our latest published timetable really is Absolutely Useless.

Unless you live in north Pembrokeshire, you might not realise that as well as running this website, Fishguard Trains publishes timetables in print, available through local stores.

The first, FISHGUARD AND SIX NATIONS, published for  the launch of the new service, gave you all the direct and connecting times for travel between Fishguard and south-east Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England, France and Belgium. The point was to show that even though some of our new trains only run as far as Clarbeston Road, by making connections, we can now easily reach London, Glasgow, Paris and Brussels in time for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.

We didn’t forget local connections either, showing how to use the new Fishguard trains to connect with central and south Pembrokeshire.

The drawback of this timetable with all its connections is that can’t show all variations at the weekend, and it also gets out of date very quickly.

So for our next publication, the BOOKMARK TIMETABLE, we went to the opposite extreme, just showing times at the newly-opened Fishguard and Goodwick Station. The idea is to answer three simple questions:  when’s the next train, where’s it going, where’s it coming from. Think of it like a live train indicator board, except in your pocket.

The point of this simplified timetable is to put Fishguard and Goodwick Station on the map, after a closedown lasting 50 years. We want to encourage the idea that there’s a great station just down the hill, and there’s another train due in … well let’s check the Bookmark Timetable. Hey – let’s go to Carmarthen for the afternoon.

If you want more information – when does the next train reach Cardiff – what time’s the last connection from London – then you need a full timetable as well. Is that a problem?

So is the Bookmark Timetable Absolutely Useless? Fishguard Trains wants to hear more views. There’s a practical reason: with new bus times starting, new connections are possible with the trains. Come September there will be new national rail times, and we are now considering what kind of timetable would be valuable to follow on from these first two.

Would you like to add your views to Fraser’s? We’d like to hear from you too.


Filed under Timetables

9 Responses to Absolutely useless

  1. Rob

    It doesn’t work like a normal timetable, so if you’re used to them it’s a little different at first BUT – I don’t think many people actually use old style timetables any more…. People I know generally ask the online journey planner for times (or phone the call centre) where the information is given to them as a personalised itinerary.
    The bookmark works for me – the only improvement I’d suggest would be to add departure/arrival times from the places indicated on the card so that you can use it for return journeys as well.
    The big thing is a thank you that you’re making the effort to promote the service – and a number of people getting on at FGW are probably there because of the additional publicity.

  2. Rhydgaled

    While I don’t use it myself, I don’t think the bookmark timetable is completly useless (the biggest plus is it looks like a great publicity tool, which is a very good thing).

    In fact, I think the only thing Fishguard Trains have done which was Absolutely Useless was putting the 9am 412 bus from Cardigan on the Fishguard & Six Nations timetable. Just check the Fishguard Town Hall row, 412 from Cardigan arr. 09:40ish, town service ‘connection’ to Fishguard Harbour dep. 09:25. That’s bad planning on the part on PCC and/or Richards Bros. Although the Fishguard & Six Nations timetable is now out-of-date, that no-connection problem still exists and is just one example of why I think, with the next Fishguard & Six Nations timetable, there is little point including buses unless things are improved.

  3. Swansea Jack

    Spad – could I suggest that the banner headline of this section be reserved for the Civil servants at DafT (DfT) in London. Latest plans show that £258 million will be spent on route clearing the lines for the 26 m long IEP vehicles (HST coaches are 23m). Routes to be cleared will NOT include Swansea to Carmarthen (or Pembroke dock) so West Wales would appear to be losing its through London Trains in a few years time. This ‘wasted’ £258 million would have easily paid for electrification from Cardiff to Swansea as well as diversionary routes like via Chepstow and Kemble for when the Severn Tunnel is shut.

    It seems as if DafT are trying to oudo other Government departments in terms of incompetence at present……Absolutely Useless seem to be an apt description!

    • Spad

      Swansea Jack: Fascinating and important story. Do we understand this correctly: the post electrification elec/diesel coaches being commissioned will be 3 metres longer than the 125s. To squeeze them down Brunel’s line, taxpayers money will be spent on clearing the route as far as Swansea but no further. If that’s right, then the entire diesel option only exists to service Cardiff-Swansea, which ironically undermines any case for dual traction.
      Secondly, has this story had wider circulation yet?
      Thirdly, if DafT was happy to write Wales’ second city out of its electrification agenda, a couple of services straggling even further west are not even going to be a blip on its radar. Is the place to make waves Cardiff Bay?

      • Rhydgaled

        Correct, the IEP coaches being planned are to be longer than the mark3 coaches found in IC125s. Class 175, 153 and 158 coaches are a similar length to mark3s also, so the coaches in the new trains are longer than any passenger stock used in Wales at present.

        I’ve known that for quite a while, the £258 million figure and that Carmarthen isn’t included are news to me though. The information I’ve been getting hold of was that Swansea – Carmarthen would be cleared for the longer coaches, but that no lines in Pembrokeshire would be.

        Does that £258m include the deployment of IEP on East Coast, or is it only GWML clearance?

  4. anthony

    I agree Swansea Jack watch the MP’s in west wales cry foul when they lose their through trains to London.
    Maybe someone should send them an email.

    Fair play to the WG who do seem to be doing all they can to get whe wires to Swansea and the Cardiff Valley Lines wired (In fact the WG did suggest adding on Bridgend – Swansea as part of the Valley Lines scheme)

  5. Swansea Jack

    spad – this is certainly true. Routes to be cleared for the 26m long IEP will include lines in south West London as potential diversionary routes but will not cover routes on which FGW services in the South Wales / Bristol group presently run on such as Swansea to Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock. Personally I’d much prefer to see Swansea to Cardiff electrified, along with the main diversionary routes such as Chepstow and Barry. However DafT seem intent on these bi-mode, overly long, thus overly narrow useless Bi-mode IEPs which absolutely no-one in the rail industry wants. The one advantage of a bi-mode replacement for HSTs would have been their ability to continue West of Swansea and maintain the through services to Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock and potentially elsewhere, but because of their unneeded length and DafT’s refusal to route clear West of Swansea that ability will be lost. If you don’t believe me take a look at this link http://www.networkrail.co.uk/WorkArea/D … 0064778689, page 28 will give you the routes to be cleared for IEP, thus….

    “To provide infrastructure capability enhancements to enable the operation of the IEP train according to the deployment strategy defined by the client (DfT). IEP is proposed to operate over the following:

    Core routes:
    o London to Cardiff/Swansea;
    o London to Bristol/Weston Super Mare/Taunton;
    o London to Gloucester/Cheltenham;
    o London to Oxford/Worcester/Hereford; and
    o London to Newbury/Westbury/Exeter;

    Diversionary routes:
    o Westbury to Bath Spa;
    o Gloucester to Severn Tunnel Junction;
    o Cardiff to Bridgend via Barry;
    o Castle Cary to Exeter via Yeovil; and
    o Reading to Waterloo.”

    Notice the lack of any mention of lines West of Swansea which aren’t only diversionary routes but see regular FGW express / HST services at present!!!

    DafT’s refusal to add Swansea to Cardiff electrification is entirely down to 1 Civil Servant in London who is trying to justify the bi-mode IEP which will cost £20,000 per vehicle per calendar month more than the expensive, complicated tilting Pendolinos presently working Virgin West coast services form London Euston. What we actually need is a 10 coach straight EMU with the money saved going to additional electrification. The savings from cancelling the bi-mode IEP and associated route clearance for the 26m long IEPs in 10 years would effectively pay for all of the GW routes to be electrified.

    I have to agree that the Welsh Government are making a very good effort to reverse DafT’s decision in London with regard to electrification to Swansea, they are also pushing the sensible logic of electrification of the Valley lines network which is itself long overdue. my concern is that DafT will sweeten Welsh concerns by giving us the Valley lines wiring while ignoring the logical completion of the route through to Swansea! The economic hit Swansea and South west Wales will suffer if that happens will be considerable!!

  6. Rob

    In any sensible world, the DFT would go for Swansea Jack’s suggestion and buy a straight intercity EMU, with a bodyshell similar to the the HST. They would save all the route upgrade costs, and mark III coaches have always been popular with passengers (much more so than Pendolinos). If the IC-EMU was able to run behind a diesel loco (like the Pendolino) through services could be maintained to all places currently served.
    Back on the timetable, it was interesting to see that Ceredigion Council have put up new timetables for busses in Lampeter following the Fishguard Trains model – listing the times at Lampeter in one column, the route number in another, and the calling points in a third. You seem to have started a trend!

  7. Swansea Jack

    Anthony – email will go off tonight! On previous form he will check details and come back with the replies recieved from DafT. Trouble is that DafT still seem to be sending out information that has been proved to be wrong months ago.

    As planned I cannot see how Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock will retain through services to London, and as for any aspiration to restore a through service to H’West and Milford, even less likely as things stand at present. Swansea will also revert to a basic hourly London service as I understand it – the main reason the service is effectively half-hourly in the morning at present is that the HST sets are maintained overnight in Swansea. With IEP that work will happen at Stoke Gifford with a consequential reduction in work at Swansea Landore. Thus DafT – Absolutely Useless…………………

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