Fast Track to Fishguard

section of Arriva Trains Wales map

Fast track?

A call for the century-old express line to Fishguard to be used for new high-speed services linking south-east and south-west Wales is published today by the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

Writing in agenda, the Institute’s journal, Mike Joseph (of Fishguard Trains) describes “radically improved access for the whole of west Wales, all using existing infrastructure”.

UK Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond last month announced that a “strong high-level case” may exist for electrification of the Cardiff Valley Lines. This follows four freight lines successfully restored for passenger use – west Cardiff, Maesteg, Vale of Glamorgan and Ebbw Vale. Earlier in 2009 Welsh Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said “the easiest route for us to take is to look at the success of the Ebbw Vale line and at whether there are other tracks that are not being used”.

With the case for a regular service to Fishguard now accepted, national attention now turns to Fishguard’s other under-used railway – the express line built by the GWR in 1912, to speed the London-Fishguard boat trains non-stop past Neath, Swansea and Carmarthen. Still used today by freight and the lunchtime boat train to Fishguard, the line can support direct express services between Cardiff and all of west Wales – Carmarthen, Milford and Pembroke as well as Fishguard. Mike Joseph shows how the line can even offer a train/bus service linking Cardiff and Aberystwyth in 2 hours 50 minutes.

“But the best part of this vision” writes Joseph, “concerns Swansea. Far from being bypassed by this reopening, Swansea stands to gain Wales’ first genuine Parkway station”. The Fishguard express line passes through Swansea West Services on the M4, where the infrastructure for a Parkway station, complete with a motorway exit, already exists. Drivers could park and be in central Cardiff in 48 minutes.

Asked about the timing of this proposal, only days after the announcement of extra trains for Fishguard, Mike Joseph said “surveys have shown that Cardiff and London are the key places that Fishguard rail travellers want to reach. The Carmarthen shuttle is a great start, but the aim must be express rail from west Wales to the whole of the UK.”

* The call for a high speed route between Cardiff and west Wales is published by IWA in agenda www.iwa.org.uk

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Fast Track to Fishguard

  1. Rhydgaled

    How do I get hold of agenda? Their website only seems to have a summary.

    • Spad

      Go to the IWA website for information on publications, membership etc. Members receive agenda by post, and can also download it from the IWA website.

      • Rhydgaled

        Yeah, I went looking for it on their website, but as I say only found a summary. To be exact, I found this:

        WALES RAIL CONNECTIVITY

        Running our own railroad

        Stuart Cole argues that Network Rail’s devolution of its Welsh operation should be good news for electrification

        Wales’ rail future

        John Rogers suggests the Welsh Government should re-nationalise Welsh railways

        Swansea’s nine lines

        Mike Smith puts the case for connecting the Amman Valley with Swansea and Mumbles to create a light rail transit system for Wales’ second city

        The easiest, and fastest route

        Mike Joseph advocates a revival for Wales’s first high speed line

        • Spad

          It’s called a paywall. Not everything is on the internet, and not everything on the internet is free.

          • Spad

            Good to see the Western Mail reprint large parts of Mike Joseph’s agenda article last Saturday 30th (and only slightly garbled). The more the news gets around that Wales has a high-speed east-west line begging to be used, the more likely it will reach the political agenda in the next Assembly. Tell your new AM!

  2. Rhydgaled

    The thing with the Swansea parkway idea is that, unless there are major linespeed improvements, having the west Wales express trains calling at it will impact on the time advantage of using the district line. I think the shortfall in Carmarthen – Cardiff Central journey times versus the car (according to AA journey planner, so without traffic) with current services is about 25 mins. While that discounts traffic, I think that the railway’s long term aim should be to shave off a least that much because anyone leaving Wales by car need not go through Cardiff, they can bypass it on the M4. Recently I boarded a class 175 train at Cardiff around about as other family memebers were leaving First motorway services, and I think they still got Port Talbot before me (we were following right behind a London to Swansea train and having to go slow though).

    Anyway, I think (reletivly un-informed guestimates) that using the District Line and 75mph Sprinter stock could save 15 mins, if you don’t stop between Llanelli and Cardiff. If you use 90mph stock (class 158) I think you could still save 15mins with 1 extra stop, say Bridgend. Boost the slower linespeeds a bit on the District Line and you could probablly add another stop for your 15mins, but I think Port Talbot would be more important than a new station on the district line. Morriston Parkway / Swansea Parkway on the district line doesn’t sound like a bad idea in itself, but what’s going to call there because the speed advantage would be reduced for the west Wales expresses if you stopped? The best thing I can think of would be a service from Llanelli or Ammanford to Swansea Docks (using a frieght-only line that’s linked to the District Line).

  3. The starting gun has been fired on Network Rail’s Welsh Route Study consultation. This is supposed to inform rail planning for many years (until 2043!), and from a breif electronic search of the document I cannot find any mention of passenger services over the Swansea District Line. Do we really want road to have a monopoly of direct travel between S.W. Wales and anywhere east of Swansea?

    The TrawsLinkCymru campaign for Carmarthen-Aberystwyth gets a mention though… That wouldn’t be very worthwhile without the SDL in my view.

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