Spare that axe

train about to depart from Fishguard and Goodwick

All Aboard

“Experimental rail service faces axe because of low use by locals” – so trumpeted Wales Online a month ago. A scoop from reporter Rhodri Clark, who seems to be something of a transport specialist for Wales Online, “the best source for Welsh news, sport, business and lifestyle and entertainment.”

Fishguard Trains now offers some facts which might get in the way of Rhod’s story.

On November 9th, Welsh Government Minister Carl Sargeant, who launched the new Fishguard service on September 12th 2011, announced passenger figures for the first full year: 45,334. This compared with the previous year – 30,682, showing an increase of 14,652.

But you have to make three adjustments before drawing any conclusions:

1 Passenger numbers for all UK stations are collected and reported annually for the year April to March. The Fishguard figures are based on mid-October 2011 – mid October 2012 (compared with the previous Oct-Oct).

2 The latest published year of national figures (April 2010-March 2011) shows how Fishguard traffic was briefly boosted by the closure of European airspace by the Icelandic volcano. The previous three years showed a steady 23 – 24,000 passengers at the port station. But the volcano at the start of April 2010-March 2011 suddenly boosted numbers to 30832.

3 Fishguard and Goodwick Station opened on May 14 2012. So it was open for only two-fifths of the year reported by the Minister.

Taking these adjustments on board, here’s the true picture:

Average passenger numbers for the three years before the volcano were 24,453.

Passenger numbers for the first year of the new service were 45,334.

The increase of 20,881 was achieved without the benefit of Fishguard and Goodwick for three-fifths of the period.

Two official studies were commissioned when the new service was being considered. The Jacobs Consultancy predicted a first year increase of 21,200 – assuming a new station and car park at Goodwick. The Faber Maunsell study projected an extra 20,000 journeys in year one, also assuming a Goodwick station. The studies concluded that the projected increases, compared with the costs of a service, gave a Benefit Cost Ratio of 2.36, “good value for money for any WAG investment in the scheme”. Indeed at 2.36, the Fishguard service was one of the top prospects of any rail reopening in the UK.

In the outcome, passenger numbers have not only equalled the projections of two studies, thus demonstrating value for money, but have done so without the benefit of the new Goodwick station which was considered vital by both consultants. What a success!

Fishguard Trains’ conclusion: if anyone wants to wield an axe, let’s take it to journalism that’s light on facts.

30 Comments

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30 Responses to Spare that axe

  1. Swansea Jack

    Agreed Spad. A real shame that Rhodri put such a negative spin on the figures, which as you note are actually positive, and in line with the two consultants reports which led to the additional trains, in predicting an increase of between 20,000 and 21,000 which has been achieved over the previous 3 years normal passenger numbers (excluding the one-off Icelandic ash cloud ‘blip’.

    With Goodwick station now open it is to be hoped that the growth in passenger numbers seen in the last 4 months (after Goodwick opened) will continue, and that we should be looking at a figure nearer to 55,000 – 60,000 for the second year, when Goodwick will be open throughout.

    The consultant who Rhodri used doesn’t have a record of being supportive of train services to Fishguard either – think back to May 1982 for a clue of his input ….

  2. Rhydgaled

    Thanks for the Jacobs and Faber Maunsell estimates of passenger numbers, coupled with the increase on pre-ash-cloud figures it certainly seems the service is on target, good to hear. Something else which would to interesting to know however is, did either Consultancy suggest a timetable with such large gaps between trains, changes at Clarbeston Road and an already full&standing last connection from Cardiff?

    One note of caution however, how much would the ash cloud event have boosted the rail-sail numbers in the year after it anyway? The ash cloud has distorted the figures and now we can’t really say for sure what the baseline is, but it is probably nearer 25,000 than 30,000.

  3. Rob

    “The consultant who Rhodri used doesn’t have a record of being supportive of train services to Fishguard either – think back to May 1982 for a clue of his input ….” – I’m presuming that this is John Davies – what happened in May 1982? Was it to do with a refusal to re-open the station permanently after it had been used during the rebuilt of the harbour station?

  4. Swansea Jack

    Until May 1982 there was an 07:22 Fishguard Harbour to Clarbeston Road which connected into the 07:30 Milford – Swansea. The set then went down empty to Milford Haven to work the 08:30 Milford to Swansea. There was no return trip in the evening though – so you had to wait until the late evening boat train – which managed to ensure there were few passengers so that they could withdraw the service of course….. even though the DMU worked the 17:15 Swansea to Milford and then returned empty to Fishguard – could have easily connected out of the next Swansea – Milford at Clarby, or the next Swansea to Pembroke Dock at Whitland, but back then it was easier just to withdraw the last truly local train from North Pembrokeshire.

    By the way these trains, and the boat trains were still crewed by the remnants of the old Goodwick (FGD) shed – the last of whom finished in the following year, leaving Pembrokeshire devoid of train crew. So not only did Fishguard lose its last useful day trip service, but Pembrokeshire lost its last traincrew signing on point.

    You can imagine my view of the ‘person’ who sanctioned that little lot, apparently he was quite proud of himself too. I won’t mention names…..

  5. Rhydgaled

    Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) passenger numbers estimates for 2011/12 (financial year, which I’m told is April to April, so FGW station wouldn’t have opened yet) have been released. They show an increase of just over 8,000 on the previous year’s ash-cloud influenced 30,832 passengers.

    Next April we will hopefully see figures for the first eleven months of the new Fishguard & Goodwick station.

  6. Swansea Jack

    Rhydgaled – the ORR figures are rather out of date, being published a full year after the period they relate to. We already know that the figure for September to September – the first 12 months was 47,000 an increase of 21,000 over the average figure for the previous full year and in line with predictions of 20,000 -21,000 passengers per annum in the first year. We also understand that there was a noticeable uplift in the numbers once Goodwick re-opened, which only covered the last 4 months of the September to September figures, the official line was ‘most of the increase happened after Goodwick opened’

    I agree it will be interesting to see how the Goodwick verus Harbour figures split up in next years’ figures.

    • Rhydgaled

      Why does it take 12 months for ORR to publish the figures though? While the article gives figures for the first year of the service, I presumed they must be from a different source since they were produced in advance of the ORR’s.

      Alternatively, if the sources are the same (and if so why couldn’t the figures for all stations come out as soon as Fishguard’s did?) having the April to April figures as well as Sept to Sept might give a hint at the size of impact openning Goodwick station made.

  7. Swansea Jack

    I have no idea why the ORR figures have to be so late, but they are. The September – September figures do include 4 months of Goodwick being open so do give an indication of the impact of Goodwick which are indeed positive. As one who really pushed for the Goodwick station reopening as being a critical part of the overall scheme it did have a critical impact overall. The figures do come from the same source at the end of the day.

    But we must continue to promote the train service as much as possible, recent improvements include the provision of the cheaper advance fares from Goodwick as well as from the Harbour, while from May the issue around advance tickets for London termini and through to London underground stations from Goodwick should have been sorted. Until then just get a ticket from the Harbour or book through to Finsbury Park (BR).

  8. Rhydgaled

    Yesterday, I boarded the 14:30 to Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly. With arrival in Fishguard not until nearly 20:30, this is a very indirect way to go from Manchester to Pembrokeshire, but it is some time since I used the Fishguard service and this would be the first time I passed through Gowerton since the redoubling. I thought Network Rail were supposed to be reconstructing a section of the former viaduct to satisfy the listed building status, but saw no evidence of this.

    The vestibules of the 3-car class 175 were full with standing passengers out of Cardiff, this being the ‘Sardine Express’, but coming right through from Manchester Piccadilly meant I kept my seat until Clarbeston Road. There, I think eight passengers (including myself) waited a short while for the class 158 that formed the last train of the day to Fishguard. This is by far the most passengers I have seen on the late service. Does this passenger count reflect other’s recent experience? How are the services doing, are passenger numbers still increasing or does it seem to have flattened out?

    Lastly, I have finally completed the second instalment of my ‘Trains For Fishguard’ video series, available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iiHnQQX9mw No idea if or when I’ll get round to more, but I have collected a lot of footage.

  9. Swansea Jack

    If you wanted to see busy trains Saturday 4th May (yesterday) was the day. I arrived on the afternoon Gloucester to Fishguard Harbour which carried 38 passengers to Goodwick while 6 had detrained at Clarby Road. The scenes at Goodwick resembled Piccadilly Circus in the rush hour with cars and taxis clogging up the full to bursting car park.

    I then viewed the 20:30 Clarby Road to Fishguard Harbour arriving with at least 70 passengers getting off at Goodwick with a further 5 or 6 heading down to the Harbour.

    Apparently the 08:04 FGH to Manchester was rather busy in the morning too, by Carmarthen it was full and standing according to one traveller.

    The reason for such numbers was related to Fishguard & Goodwick Rugby clubs trip to Cardiff for yesterday’s cup final. great to see that the additional trains and especially Goodwick station played their part in transporting the supporters to Cardiff for the day.

    I felt humbled to witness what was probably Goodwick station’s busiest day since Beeching wielded his axe in the 1960s . Hopefully those who travelled yesterday had a good experience and will travel on trains from Fishguard & Goodwick again soon. Many more days like this and Pembs CC will need to extend the car park.

    With regard to cheaper advance fares from Goodwick these should now be available for all trains, any issues that remain over advance Goodwick – London fares should be cleared by the timetable chance in mid-May.

  10. Anthony

    Yes I magine Fishguad and the surrounding are will be very popular to visit during the summer on nice days like this.

    Something that has got me thinking, with the summer saturday services to Pembroke Dock from London due to end when IEP is introduced and it looks like the GW will end up with a good number of bi-modes perhaps a 5 carriage iep could be used on summer saturdays to run to Fishguard Harbour especially since the district line is due to be upgraded for use by IEP perhaps Network rail should look at what needs to be done on the line west of Carmarthen.
    I imagine such a service if promoted would be well used especially with good ferry links and it still gives direct acess to Pembrokeshire for holidaymakers visiting from places such as London and Bristol etc.

    Didnt BR run a summer saturday ccrosscountry train from Tenby to York, perhaps somthing similar could be done since there is going to be a lot of class 220/221’s freed up over the nex t 5-10 years so perhaps using spare rolling stock to expand the crosscountry network might be good

  11. Swansea Jack

    You’d need selective door opening if any 5 coach sets were put on the service as Goodwick station’s platform is only 240 foot in length, which is good for load 3 but a little too tight for load 4 in all honesty.

    Much as I’d like to see a return of Cross country trains to Tenby or through services from London to Fishguard I think that is rather unlikely in the short to medium term. I’d suggest that any Voyagers etc that come spare over the next 10 years or so would be better on things like Cardiff to Manchester, or Cardiff to Portsmouth Hbr where loadings are generally higher.

    However I believe FGW are still involved in setting prices etc to Fishguard Harbour so the return of a peak season service is always a possibility, although unless it is made a part of the GWML franchise’s minimum service requirement it is rather unlikely – unless there is a serious shift from low cost flights like Ryan Air back to the traditional Rail Sail alternative.

  12. Rhydgaled

    Anthony:
    Documents relating to the new Great Western franchise, issued before the Intercity West Coast (ICWC) franchise collapse, retain the summer Pembroke Dock – Paddington service at current levels. This despite the fact that IEP route clearance does not include any lines west of Carmarthen, which rules out Milford/Haverfordwest/Fishguard IEP services too. Assuming the plans haven’t changed since the ICWC franchise collapse, I wonder what DaFT (Department For Transport) expect future franchise holders to use on the Pembroke Dock service?

    Swansea Jack:
    When I was filming the Swansea District Line diversions, I’m pretty sure the 5-car working (two 150s and a 153) I saw was the Fishguard boat train. Would a 4-car class 158 formation be able to use Fishguard & Goodwick or does putting suitable rolling stock on the boat train require a longer platform at Goodwick in order to cope when the service needs lengthening?

    Swansea – Manchester would probably be a good route for Voyagers/Meridians as you say, apart from their abysmal fuel economy, since ATW currently provides the service with 2/3-car 175s. However, I don’t think it would work for Cardiff – Portsmouth, which currently has 3-car 158s, as I am led to believe that a 5-car Meridian has fewer seats than a 4-car 158 (and I’d expect the 158 is much cheaper to run compared to those overpowered expensive Intercity DMUs).

  13. Swansea Jack

    Rhydgaled – you may well have found that additional vehicles were added or removed at Carmarthen and the longer formations only worked East of there. Selective door opening is another option – remember things like 150’s and the Pacer 142/3 family regularly call at Gilfach Fargoed in the Rhymney valley which is rather shorter than a class 153 -they can do that because of selective door opening.

    I agree re the Voyager family – fuel efficiency is abysmal and their wasted space means they aren’t suitable for either the Marches line or Cardiff – Pompey route. Mind you in truth they’re not really suitable for any routes, including the ones they presently work on, something they’ll have in common with the Incredibly Expensive Proposal or IEP which only DafT seem to want……

  14. Anthony

    Seems the plan for FGW after 2016 is that the majority of thE local routes around Bristol and the Exeter area’s will be operated by class 165/166’s.

    It seems the Class 158’s currently with FGW could be off two new home although FGW do seem to want to keep some to use in pairs on the busiest services on the Cardiff – Portsmouth Harbour service.

    I am not sure of teh exact number but if FGW reform all bar one of their three carriage 158’s back into two carriage units then that should give a good number which some other operators could look at.

    I suspect the WG will be after a couple especially for the Cardiff – Cheltenham and Cambrian line services

  15. Rhydgaled

    Swansea Jack:
    Aggreed, Voyagers aren’t really suitable for anything. The ‘EMU acceleration at huge cost’ design philosophy they use is only suited to the kind of Intercity work they are currently used on, but that requires longer formations and a better interior layout to what they have. They would be more suited, after an interior redesign, to Cardiff-Portsmouth than a ‘middly-doors’ suburban unit like a class 166/165/150 though in my opinion. 158s are the perfect unit for Cardiff – Portsmouth in my opinion, more of them would have been more useful than building Voyagers (or class 170s which ,like Voyagers, aren’t really suitable for anything either in my opinion.)

    Do any ATW units have flexible selective door openning? I think the 158s are a choice of just one door or all of them, I’d guess the Pacers and ‘lessor Sprinters’ are similar.

    Anthony:
    Have you a link to more information on this, as I said above I think use of 165/166 units would be a step backwards on Cardiff – Portsmouth compared to the present 158s. I haven’t done Cardiff – Cheltenham, but my guess is it would be a good route for outer-suburban units like class 166/165/172, but Wales still needs lots more 158s (for Cardiff – Carmarthen express services etc.)

  16. Anthony

    Rhydgaled this may this may interest you.It seems some of arriva mark 2’s are off somewhere:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/turners_pics/8721975120/in/contacts/

    The new transport ministor does seem to be questioning a lot of the expendicture in the transport budget however it does seem she is in favour of rail which might be good for us.

    I will find the link about the 158 & 165’s being used on the portsmouth service.

    Sewta seem to be pushing the 4tph between Cardiff and Bristol TM with a half hourly electric service between the current Cardiff – Portsmouth/Taunton services.

    I have suggested your idea of extending the Taunton or Portsmouth services through to west wales Rhydgaled.

    • Rhydgaled

      That would be Portsmouth services, via the Swansea District Line (instead of through services from Cardiff to south-west Wales via Swansea High Street, but not at the cost of reducing frequencies at Swansea High Street), using pairs of class 158s splitting at Cardiff with just one 2-car unit continuing west. Thanks for passing on the suggestion.

  17. Swansea Jack

    The idea of EMUs working Bristol / Bath to Swansea services was designed to overcome the lack of sufficient electric powered trains running West of Cardiff which undermined the justification of electrification west of the capital city. I understand the plan is that these EMUs will be part of the ATW (or realiatically subsequent ‘Wales and Borders’ ) franchise. Extending Taunton / Portsmouth DMU services to Swansea (or even beyond) wouldn’t increase the number of EMUs running between Swansea and Cardiff, but would increase the number of non ATW / Wales franchise services running on the SWML thus causing revenue abstraction from the existing set-up and as such is highly unlikely to happen.

    I maintain that the only realistic possibility for Swansea District line services would be to test the water with a peak hours service at first with further developments awaiting some form of Swansea area metro system that might hang onto the shirt tails of the developing Cardiff metro proposals.

    Allowing the future GWML franchise holders to get involved in further services West of Cardiff to either Swansea or West Wales is just not going to happen. Running further DMU powered services along what is rapidly becoming a rather busy section of railway, especially between Cardiff and Bridgend will leave few paths for freight traffic either.

  18. Anthony

    A Swansea – Bath service would be good especially if as SEWTA and Greenguage have suggsted increasing the service between Cardiff & Bristol TM to 4tph.

    I have come up with a timetable which has 3tph between Swansea & Cardiff in addition to a half hourly service from Maesteg. The 3tph from Swansea consist of a hourly Swansea – London departing at 0400 then hourly til 2100 with trains at 15 and 45 minutes past each hour calling at all stations to Bridgend before non stop to Cardiff Central with trains continuing to Bristol & Bath Spa.

    This increases the swanline service to half hourly which is what the plan was orriginally before the bsu operators and M4 managed to kill that idea off at the time along with the long journey times. Electrification will cut the swanline journey times to just 58-60 minutes about 5-7 minutes quicker than today.

    The increased frequency along with the sparks effect should really grab a large number of passengers.

    Hopefully as it seems to be the case ATW will take over Llandore depot as a fueling anad stabling area for the west wales area dmu’s.

    I do hope the WG get borrowing powers not only to fund the Cardiff metro proposals (Morriston -Swansea – Mumbles tramway anyone?) but also pay for the wires to be extended to west wales. Certainly if the a solution can be done for Narbeth tunnel the Pembroke Dock branch would benefit from electrification as emu’s will easily manage the tight timings a lot better than the class 153’s and 158’s.

    The Milford Haven line would be the real winner if the wires come west of Swansea since that would allow through trains to Cardiff again along with additional freight service if the Milford Haven line gets double tracked.

    The sparks effect could be good economic benefits to west wales and perhaps in the future stenna line might be persuaded to bring back the seacat service from Fishguard

    Perhaps if paths are lacking between Bridgend and Cardiff central perhaps a swansea district line service could run and terminate at a new patform at Port Talbot Parkway with services connecting with the high speed London services offering quickl journey times to Cardiff etc.

    I think

  19. Rhydgaled

    Swansea Jack:
    I understand your comments about testing the water first, and thought an initial campaign for a 158 on the current boat train and a 17:55ish Cardiff – Milford/Fishguard service would be a good first step, providing many benifits.

    Unfortunately, it appears Arriva Trains Wales have thrown away their mrk2 coaches, the only spare rolling stock they had, to a charter operator. I think this, unfortunately, means nothing can happen until the franchise ends in 2018. Then, I think it will be too late for testing the water, we need to get a full frequency service written into the franchise spec.

    As for franchise boundaries, the present setup is rather silly in my opinion as Carmarthen – Manchester is one hell of a curcuitous route, whereas Carmarthen – Portsmouth would be broadly moving in the right direction. Could a swap be arranged to allow Welsh services to run to Portsmouth? Perhaps each TOC operating the service in alternate hours? Alternativly, the Cheltenham – Cardiff service doesn’t seem to fit in ATW’s franchise (as all the other local suburban routes will be electrified) so could the Great Western franchise take that (and run it with their class 165/166 trains, or are class 150s suitable?) with the Welsh franchise taking over some Portsmouth services?

    Anthony:
    I think going from 2 fast trains an hour to 1 between Swansea and Cardiff could be a step in the wrong direction. Also, once you factor in the connection time, terminating SDL trains at Port Talbot will lose most of the speed benifit of using the SDL in the first place.

    When the wires are up and ATW’s franchise expires, I would hope as a minimum for the following passenger services on the main line west of Bridgend, listing the stops they would serve west of Bridgend:

    Hourly Swansea – Paddington (Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot only)
    Hourly Swansea – Ebbw Vale (all stations, Swanline service)
    Hourly Swansea – Bristol (Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and perhaps Pyle)
    Hourly Carmarthen – Cardiff/Portsmouth (Carmarthen, Llanelli and Port Talbot only)

    That’s only one diesel per hour, which maintains much of the current frequency through service between Carmarthen and Cardiff (it would continue into Pembs in alternate hours as at present). If it saves capacity east of Bridgend, the Swansea-Ebbw Vale could join/split with Maesteg services at Bridgend provided we get EMUs with corridor connections on the ends for the job.

  20. Swansea Jack

    Realistically getting a regular Swansea District line service straight away is not going to happen – remember most West Wales towards Cardiff services are either load 2 or 3 and there would be no justification for splitting the West Wales to Swansea traffic from that heading further East. You’d never get such a service frequency written into a post 2018 franchise agreement.

    The loss of the ATW mark IIs is indeed a shame as it removes one option for increasing capacity if loadings continue to increase before electrification schemes start to release DMUs in around 3 years time. However ATW as a commercial company cannot keep unused stock just in case.

    I’d suggest transferring Portsmouth – Cardiff out of Greater Western into Wales is very unlikely to happen either, while we’d need to see what happens in the next 2 or 3 years over the Birmingham – Bristol route for any further electrification schemes before considering movement of Cheltenham – Cardiff local services away from Welsh Government control, something which would almost guarantee that Chepstow line service frequency wouldn’t improve.

    As far as Swansea – Paddington service frequency there will be enough of a battle to maintain the present hourly off-peak with half-hourly morning peak as it is – if the route ends up with totally unsuitable 5 coach IEPs the frequency would need to be half-hourly all day. There is a need to provide 2 tph for freight paths along the SWML which will become difficult when Maesteg goes half-hourly without adding a further regular District line West Wales service on top.

    The focus for present must be to push for an 07:00 ish Carmarthen to Cardiff via Felin Fran in the morning and a 17:55 ish Cardiff to Carmarthen direct service in the evening – getting that would be battle enough for the present. The use of a loco-hauled service with mark IIs sounds great in theory but leasing, crewing, training and track access costs make it rather more expensive than a multiple unit solution, such a service would be unlikely to commence within 2 to 3 years anyway – it took over a decade to get Fishguard’s additional trains for example.

    I also feel that Swansea area services will soon need a focused investigation by SWWITCH etc in a similar way to the Cardiff area proposals are getting at the moment. The time for that may be a year or two away where consideration of services to serve potential Morriston Parkway / Llandarcy together with Gorseinon and a light rail system for the city for example could be explored.

    The Swansea District line is of importance for West Wales services but having regular services avoiding Wales’ second city isn’t a realistic option with passenger densities that exist or are likely to exist over the short to medium term, i.e. the next decade probably. Even in the past the District line was only used for boat train expresses to Fishguard and a handful of Summer Saturday holiday trains together with one return Carmarthen – Paddington train – neither market segment provides the required volumes these days unfortunately.

    By the way Swanline won’t be running East of Port Talbot soon anyway, Pyle stops being fitted into West Wales – Manchester / Cardiff services instead. Enthusiast’s forums might be suitable for coming up with speculative wish lists, we need to remember this site is predominantly about promoting services to Fishguard and Goodwick and North Pembrokeshire, and ensuring sufficient people use the additional trains to ensure their survival and viability long into the future. I appreciate a consideration of through services direct to Cardiff falls into that scope but fail to see how consideration of transferring Portsmuth to Cardiff services to Welsh government control which run for 90% of their journey in England is part of that promotion – sorry!

    • Rhydgaled

      Regarding mrk2s, is there any stock now they’ve gone which would permit introduction of a 17:55 SDL service from Cardiff? I wasn’t proposing the mrk2s would for the SDL service, I would have suggested mrk2 rakes on north Wales – Manchester workings, releasing 3-car 175s to kick 2-car examples off the south Wales – Manchester route which in turn could run the SDL service or release a 158 for the job. Sadly that option is now out of the window and I don’t see us getting any more 158s to allow any service improvements.

      I personally don’t think continuing to provide through trains from Carmarthen/Pembs to Cardiff via Swansea High Street is all that sensible after electrification. As a through route, via Swansea is just too indirect, and as the current Manchester services show running through services this way means Swansea – Cardiff sees rather short trains.

      SWWITCH have proposed 3 trains an hour Carmarthen – Swansea in the past, if that frequency is warranted then I would say splitting out Swansea passengers from those heading further east, with 2tph Carmarthen-Swansea and 1tph Carmarthen-Cardiff/Portsmouth via the SDL, isn’t too much of a problem, given the reduction in journey time show grow the market for travel from west of Swansea to east of Swansea. 2-car 158s would probably suffice, Railfuture’s suggestion of an hourly Carmarthen – Paddington service via SDL is totally unrealistic.

      My suggestion of combining Pembs/Carmarthen services with the Cardiff to Portsmouth is mostly about eliminating the need for passengers to change to reach Bristol, which might also help keep down the number of changes required to reach other parts of the country.

  21. Anthony

    I hope Pyle retains it half hourlly service during the peaks as it is a railhead for the coastal Town of Porthcawl as well as surrounding viliages.

    I have heard talk on the video125 forum from someone in the know at ATW who have said atw would like to make more use of their mark 3 loco hauled rakes since they have stock sitting idle at canton in between use on the express to Holyhead.

    ATW do want to run a number of services through to Manchester Airport in particular the 04:40 and 05:40 from Cardiff to Manchester currently carrry a lot of passengers who are heading to the airport

    If the services from noth and south wales run through to Manchester Airport then perhaps they can be timed to interwork with each other.

    ATW should have a unit spare when the Cardiff – Holyhead services are sped up meaning units wont have to sit in Canton in between duties

    The problem it seems is that ATW will need the permission of the Welsh Government to run the loco hauled rakes on the south Wales – Manchester route.
    Rhydgaled I remeber you mentioning the idea of atw making better use of their loco hauled sets so perhaps you may just get your wish although atw will need more mark 3’s.

    The mark2’s that have left canton the majority of them have had parts stripped to keep those in use on the Gerald in good order so are really only likley to be scrapped in the future.

  22. Anthony

    Not sure about Adamking but I know ‘DaveKC’ is one of atw’s drivers based at Canton so I think he would know.#
    I am only aware of 2 operation rakes of mark3’s although DB Regio did buy a load for Chiltern and I am sure there are still some in storage including a few mark3 carriages at Willesdon depot (Look on your left hadn side when traveling on the Bakerloo line between Queens Park & Willesdon Junction
    .
    Swansea Jack:

    Your idea’s do have merit and I agree about the extra paths needed for railfreight however could we squeeze some extra paths if emu’s are used on local services especially if they all have a top speed of 75mph with the exception of the IEP’s (Dont get me started).

    If the swanlines are cut back then perhaps tram-trains could be used perhaps using vehicles similar to those on the Manchester Metrolink.

    Swansea station will need rebuilding to allow trams acess to the streets outside. Such schemes would be major benefits to Swansea especially if trams run along the seafront to Oystermouth/Mumbles which will be a good tourist attraction (Good way to get some people to use Cardiff Airport)

    Pyle station is getting busier everyday especially as services are improved. Some people had doubts about stopping the 0504 Carmarthen – Manchester service at Pyle (Arr 06:08) but it gets about 6-8 regular customers each day.
    Off peak a hourly service should be enough.

    • Rhydgaled

      Interesting, merlodlliw at RailUK Fourms is adament that Pullman rail Cardiff, were paid to refurb only six mark3s. Either he or this ‘DaveKC’ is wrong, unless ATW have more mrk3s which aren’t refurbished.

      If Pyle only needs an hourly service, then can the stops between Bridgend and Cardiff be left with just an hourly service also? If so, you could split/join all Swansea services, except the Londons, with Maestegs at Bridgend like this:

      Hourly Swansea/Maesteg – Ebbw Vale all stations
      Hourly Swansea/Maesteg – Bristol calling at Neath, Port Talbot, Bridgend, Cardiff etc.
      plus the hourly Swansea – Paddington and Carmarthen – Cardiff/Portsmouth fasts.

  23. Swansea Jack

    EMU’s may allow an additional path along the SWML but the difference in speed to freight can make it more difficult to path freights among a faster passenger service.

    I wouldn’t propose tram train to take over Swanline although it could merit consideration in the future. I would like to see the Swansea Bendybus service replaced by a light rail/ tram service with extension along Swansea’s seafront from Singleton to Oystermouth and Mumbles, with a branch from Blackpill up the Clyne valley to Dunvant and Killay. That would do the job of the bendybus but also tackle the traffic congestion on both the A4118 Gower Road through Sketty, and Oystermouth Road along the seafront.

    With Pontardawe / Clydach being the largest settlements in Wales after Gorseinon not to have rail links I believe that trams would be better heading up the Swansea Valley beyond Morrison hospital than to head off towards Neath and Port Talbot on heavy rail.

    I can appreciate that if SWWITCH’s plans for 3 trains per hour between Carmarthen and Swansea come to fruition then there could be merit in one of the three heading direct to Cardiff via the District line, although I’d expect this to happen in the longer rather than medium term.

    How electrification of the SWML affects through services from West Wales continuing to Cardiff and beyond is something that we in West Wales need to keep an eye on, although present UK practice suggests there will be little resistance to running through diesel trains ‘under the wires’. As the importance of Cardiff continues to grow the provision of through trains from West Wales, including North Pembrokeshire, becomes ever more critical for economic reasons.

  24. Anthony

    Hopefully if it is true that the uk government is going to give wales the powers to borrow money that some of the money borrowed is spent on extending the wires beyond Swansea to West wales as well as for the Cardiff City Metro proposals. It would be very good for freight if they are hauled by electric locomotives and would help promote railfreight as well as brining economic benefits to west wales especially at Milford Haven

    I do think a direct service via the Vale of glamorgan line from the Swansea direction would be good but the junction at Bridgend will need sorting out.
    I wonder how long would it take for a tram to get from Blackpill up the Clyne Valley

  25. Swansea Jack

    Through services to the Vale of Glamorgan at Bridgend would be rather unlikely unless some rather difficult engineering work was carried out at the East end of Bridgend station. Remember Eastbound trains need to use the Westbound platform at Bridgend at present, which would have implications for capacity on the South Wales main line.

    As I’ve noted previously electrification of the West Wales route would follow on after wiring of the North wales coast, Severn Tunnel to Gloucester and Newport to Crewe routes. Unless there is an even greater step change in the UK’s attitude to electrification or oil prices rise considerably I don’t see electrification of Swansea to Milford Haven being on the agenda for at least 15 to 20 years. Present capital costs of electrification wouldn’t justify the expenditure, and if oil prices rose so much to justify such expenditure I doubt there would be a refining industry left on the Haven estuary to provide the freight traffic anyway.

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