Another reason to take the train to Fishguard

view from Fishguard train at Ferryside, sunset over the sea

the view comes free with your ticket

The view comes free with all tickets to Fishguard (and Goodwick).

Photo taken one evening recently from the train to Fishguard as it passes  along Carmarthen Bay and reaches the mouth of the Towy. On the opposite side of the Towy, Llanstephan with its castle. In the distance, Caldey with its monastery. Click the photo for an even better view.

What’s the view like from your train?

13 Comments

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13 Responses to Another reason to take the train to Fishguard

  1. Swansea Jack

    And yet another reason……

    Since the timetable change the 14:35 Gloucester to Fishguard (the one that arrives in Fishguard shortly before 19:00hrs (7pm) in the evening appears to now be formed of a class 158. Air -conditioned splendour (when it’s working…) I had one of the nicely reliveried 158s in the Welsh Government livery last week too. It will be interesting to see what is on that train this evening to see if the Saturday version of the train is also a class 158.

    So in total Fishguard and Goodwick’s additional trains now appear to be class 175’s for the first two morning departures, a class 153 on the third, and class 158 on the two evening trains. Not bad at all. Well done ATW et al.

    • Spad

      It’s probably time for Fishguard Trains to publish a handy guide to the different train types for ordinary rail users who can’t tell their 158s from their 175s. Any suggestions for a reliable source of pix and descriptions?

  2. Swansea Jack

    Try the ATW website, click on about us (RHS) then Fleet (bottom LHS) – that gives information on the trains used by ATW, while the site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arriva_Trains_Wales has details (and pictures) of the trains used at the end of that article.

  3. Rhydgaled

    Swansea Jack, indeed we do have some good stock used on the Fishguard line now with the 175 (should now be 3-car since the 17:39 is now supposed to be 3-car and it is the same diagram) on the 08:04 to Manchester via Swansea and Cardiff being joined by a 158 on the evening arrival from Gloucester via Cardiff and Swansea.

    The 09:56 I think can be either a 150 or 153 (even Pacers in the summer holidays when the Pembroke Dock branch trains are lengthened from 153s to Pacers) which given it only goes as far as Carmarthen is nothing bad (and the connection to Swansea and beyond should be a 175). It might not be so suitable for in-bound travelers on the train from Cardiff and Swansea that forms the 09:56 though.

    So, definately praise due to ATW for providing a 158 on the evening trains, in addition to the 175 already found on the morning runs. However, don’t forget that at the recent timetable change the daytime boat train reverted to a woefully inappropriate class 150 (it had finally become a 158 (only on weekdays though) just a few weeks before).

    Spad, Wikipedia often has a good assortment of pictures that come without copywrite concerns. For example, one of the pictures I took at Fishguard & Goodwick of a 153 on the first 09:56 that called is on the station’s wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishguard_and_Goodwick_railway_station), I can e-mail you the full-resolution version if requested (I also have pictures of a 150+pacer combination at F&G, a 150 passing through before it was re-opened, a 158 at Ferryside and several of 158s elsewhere (one taken near Swansea from the boat train) just ask if you’d like me to send any of them). You might also like to look at http://www.nwrail.org.uk/nwtrains.htm which is the guide to the different types of rolling stock used in north Wales. You might want something with better explanations and less of the enthusiast-aimed information though.

  4. Anthony

    This news article about the extra Fishguard services facing the axe because of low passenger numbers:

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/11/10/experimental-rail-service-faces-axe-because-of-low-use-by-locals-91466-32202777/

    Not sure but I think a much better pattern of departures would help and that 08:04 departure being re-timed to leave Fishguard Harbour around 07:59 offering an arrival into Carmathen for 08:50.

    Alsdo the daytime boat train from Cardiff should call at Carmarthen on its way to Fishguard Hbr

  5. Rhydgaled

    Five per train on average sounds poor, but I’d like to hear a better analysis of that.

    Going by the very un-scientific method of reviewing the various posts and comments on this websites, it seems the first arrival in the evening normally discharges a double-digit number of passengers, there are passengers for FGW (therefore not taking the ferry) on the boat train and I doubt the 08:04 and 09:56 departures run empty very often, if at all.
    I think that means those ECS moves are dragging down the average. One hopes the desision on the future of Fishguard’s rail service is based on loadings of useful trains, not an average that includes the ECS mileage. The ECS mileage, the first two services into Fishguard in the morning, are also worked by one of the most expensive trains in Wales, a class 175 (isn’t it even a 3-car one now?)

    The article claims that ‘the timetable was designed for commuting out of Fishguard’. However, as Anthony has said the 08:04 seems a tad too late for commuters to Carmarthen. I know next to nothing about commuting patters, but I’d say the first morning service is too early for commuting to Carmarthen, it (and both evening services) seem targeted more at travel to Swansea (for commuting) and Cardiff (for business meetings, and perhaps lesuire), but the arrival times at these places seem to be cutting it fine for starting something in Swansea at 9am or Cardiff at 10am. The ideal connection for both of those seems to me to be the First Great Western service from Carmarthen around 07:30. I also noticed, while trying to come up with suggested times for a bus connection from Newport into the morning Fishguard – Clarbeston Road service that the bus could instead connect at Haverfordwest into the same train the Fishguard service hands its passengers to at Clarby Road.

    On a brighter note, the article does mention a 48% increase in passenger numbers, that doesn’t sound too shaby to me.

    Another point the article makes is a mention of a ‘good bus link to Haverfordwest station’ – There may be a good bus link but, like at Fishguard, it doesn’t really connect with trains. At least there’s a waiting room at HVF I suppose, Fishguard’s station with public transport interchange facilities (FGH) has lost most of its buses.
    More importantly, the article later includes a quote of somebody saying: “we don’t like to tell them to get on the bus at Haverfordwest.” There seems to be an atitude against buses, they are seen as a 2nd class mode of transport, which the rail doesn’t appear to be tarnished with given the increase in useage nationwide. If we are to encourage a reduction in car use, across the whole country, then either this attitude against buses needs to be vaporised or we need to reopen much more of the rail network.

    This leads me onto requests for a ticket machine at FGW, which have apparently been made (according to the North Pembrokeshire Transport Fourm’s October News Briefing). ATW say the footfall is not sufficiently high, but here again it seems that having two stations serving north Pembs is both a blessing and a curse, at least given our probably unique suituation where the one which is better suituated is by far the smaller and has far fewer facilities. The harbour station, in my opinion, is still the place to make bus connections given the lack of facilities at FGW. That means, if you provide a ticket machine at Fishguard you’d have the angonising decision of which station? Either way you still deny the option of advance tickets to users of the other station.

    Another extract from the NPTF’s news briefing is that, on 23rd October POINT, Fishguard and Goodwick Young Person’s Trust, signed a station adoption agreement for the new rail station with Arriva Trains Wales.

    On an unrelated note, I’m pretty sure I saw the 15:47 departure from Shrewsbury (14:30 ex MAN) to Milford Haven today subtiled on one of the LED displays in the subway under Shrewsbury station with a change at Clarbeston Road for Fishguard message. Have the extra services started running on Sundays or is this an information error?

  6. Swansea Jack

    Anthony – what we have here is misinformation from those who have never been supportive over providing additional trains to North Pembrokeshire. Firstly lets look at the figures: 45,334 passengers is 21,588 more than the 23,746 passengers who used Fishguard Harbour in 2009/10, an increase of 90%. The article quotes the increase from the 2010/11 figures which were boosted by the temporary increase caused by the Icelandic Cloud which grounded flights in the UK and Ireland, and is thus not a fair comparison.

    Secondly the annual subsidy as a percentage of ATWales’ total subsidy is comparable with the percentage of Wales who live in the North Pembrokeshire catchment area for the new train service – so this is about North Pembrokeshire getting its fair share of funding – at long last!!

    The article also mentions how it would have been better to use the money to make services to Milford Haven or Aberystwyth hourly – the single track at Gowerton has been the reason delaying the former, while the poor reliability of the ERTMS signalling on the Cambrian line caused the delay to implementing the Aberystwyth service, the funding of a decent train service for North Pembrokeshire is not to blame.

    Finally how would a 412 bus to Haverfordwest for a train forward to Carmarthen be able to compete time or price wise with a direct train from Fishguard & Goodwick or a car throughout?! The direct train competes with road journey times to Carmarthen while the 412 bus to H’west for train forward will never get people to swap their cars for public transport.

    Increasing the numbers on the trains remains important obviously and numbers noted arriving and departing from Goodwick station over the last week in October indicate that passenger numbers continue to increase month on month. We need to make everyone aware of the train service and encourage everyone to use it. I agree that re-timing the 08:04 to something like 07:50 or so, giving an arrival in Carmarthen around 08:45 would certainly be a worthwhile improvement.

    This is a 3 year trial, and we also have a station at Goodwick which is proving very useful, and I was very impressed to see that 55 passengers alighted off the early evening arrival at the station on Friday 26th October – rather different from the average figure of 5 quoted in the article!

  7. Rob

    The figures in the WM article don’t make sense. It claims that there was only 14,652 increase in passengers over the year, meaning an average of less that 5 per train, but then says that 2/3 of the increase was concentrated in the 4 months after F&G opened. By my calculation over that period, it meant an average passenger figure of 12 (including the early morning positioning trains which are unlikely to be very busy at all.
    However, if you take Jack’s point above, that 2010/11 isn’t a fair baseline the figures are even more interesting. An average year of around 24,000 means 8,000 journeys in 4 months. 2010/11 was busier, meaning an additional 1,500 journeys in 4 months, taking total passenger figures to 9,500 for 4 months. If you factor in 2/3 of the passenger figures increase for 2011/12 after F&G opened, you have an additional 9,700 passengers.
    (9,700 passengers from F&G in 4 months would give a creditable annual usage of 29,100). Far from being a flop, it looks like the additional trains combined with F&G being re-opened, will more than double passenger figures on the line.
    The down side is of course, that the number of trains has increased by more than double, meaning fewer passengers on average per train. Number need to grow, but it certainly looks like someone is trying to put a negative spin on the whole thing…..

  8. Anthony

    I agree about the article being misinformative, that is one reason why I highlighted it here as I believe it certainly gives the public and unfair view of the new service which I have used a few times myself so i have seen how things are with my own eyes.

    Once rolling stock becomes available I would like to see there being a standard clockface timetable introduced on the Fishguard services similar to that employed on the Pembroke Dock branch since I believe this would further help increase passenger numbers.

  9. Rhydgaled

    My comment from November 12th is still awaiting moderation, but I have recently received an e-mail from the North Pembrokeshire Transport Fourm. This makes the same comment as Swansea Jack about a 90% increase on the previous ash-cloud-free year. It also makes another interesting comparison, 45,334 passengers at Fishguard is close to the 45,640 recorded using Pembroke Dock in 2010/11 (the most recent figures available), with 2,600 fewer population (Fishguard 5,043 vs Pembroke Dock 8,678 according to wikipeida), and Pembroke Dock has a train every two hours including 8 coach Intercity 125s on summer Saturdays.

    Sounds like Fishguard’s train service is doing well, long may that continue.

    • Spad

      Sorry for the glitch Rhydgaled. The reason your last two comments did not appear instantly is that you sent them from a new email address. Once a comment from any email address is accepted by Fishguard Trains, all subsequent comments from that address appear automatically, without prior vetting. Using a new email address meant we needed to issue a new approval. All is well now.
      Meanwhile Fishguard Trains is researching a full response to the nonsense about passenger numbers published recently by Wales Online. Watch this space.

  10. Swansea Jack

    Just a reminder that the re-doubling work on-going at Gowerton – Loughor will result in an Engineering blockade between Llanelli and Swansea next weekend from 18:00hrs on Saturday and all day Sunday. Posters giving ‘some’ information about the amended service via the Swansea District line have been posted on the information boards down at Goodwick station – I saw them there this lunchtime. http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/managed/service-disruptions/en893b9a703a41728acb8833b064d473/additionalMaps/Swansea_Llanelli.pdf

    Another opportunity to enjoy a regular service along the Swansea District line – I’m hoping to have a trip or 2 along there myself next weekend if possible.

  11. John Davies

    I was down at Goodwick station yesterday to meet the 18:47 from Gloucester and there were a good number of passengers onboard. I would say 25 – 30. The car park was full.

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