Stranded

passenger barriers at Swansea High Street Station

Help at the barrier?

Heading to Fishguard from Swansea? Take the advice and information offered at Swansea High Street station, and you’ll end up stranded for five hours at Llanelli or Whitland.

On at least nine previous occasions, Fishguard Trains has revealed problems with timetables for the Fishguard services (see the INDEX for Information Problems). Some were trivial, some serious, but all of them were completely unhelpful for our three-year trial service. Today it gives us no pleasure to report problem number 10.

Fishguard train times displayed at Swansea station

wrong again

Here are the times displayed on the main concourse at Swansea for services to Fishguard. Click on our picture and you’ll see that the 18:41 weekday service from Swansea to Fishguard & Goodwick requires a change at Llanelli, while the 18:41 weekday service from Swansea to Fishguard Harbour (the very same service!) strangely requires a change at Whitland.

But if you believe that information – and why shouldn’t you? – you will be in for a five hour wait: at Llanelli from 18:59 until three minutes past midnight, and at Whitland from 19:45 until 00:46.

The correct advice in each case is of course to take the 18:41 from Swansea, on no account get off at Llanelli or Whitland, but stay on to Clarbeston Road, where the Fishguard train will pick you up five minutes after you arrive on the platform.

You might say that people won’t make important travel decisions on the strength of some tiny letters on a rail timetable. They would rather ask a friendly Arriva station man. That’s just what Fishguard Trains did last night. Arriving at the barriers at Swansea High Street, the ticket inspector checked our tickets for Fishguard & Goodwick, and asked how we expected to get there. “On the 18:41” we replied confidently. “Not at all” he replied, and walked over to the timetable boards to confirm his certain knowledge that the 18:41 could only leave us waiting for 5 hours at Llanelli or Whitland.  Our man from Arriva was very helpful, very certain, and very wrong.

Sadly he wasn’t particularly interested when we pointed out the correct times printed in Arriva’s Pocket Timetable No 3. So tonight at Swansea they are probably still misdirecting any hapless travellers bound for Fishguard, and the timetable boards are still dotted with nonsense.

Could it be a plot to run all Fishguard trains non-stop past Swansea on the Swansea District Line?

4 Comments

Filed under News & weather, Timetables

4 Responses to Stranded

  1. Irishman

    I wonder are these timetables produced by Network Rail or by Trenau Arriva Cymru.

    The former company has voluntary reviewers/proofers of its electronic National Rail Timetable (eNRT).

    Perhaps a similar pool of volunteer proofers for station specific timetables would be a good idea.

    • Rhydgaled

      Indeed, more proof-reading of timetables would be useful.

      I believe ATW are supposed to consult on their timetable changes, which might catch some errors (but doesn’t include the station specific format), and would allow feedback on usefulness or otherwise of the service, but I think they failed to consult again for the DEC 2012 timetable.

      Going back to the specific problem at hand, I hope the guards are sharp and catch passengers for Fishguard and correct their information before they disembark at Whitland or Llanelli and get stuck til the night-boat train.

  2. Blocking Back

    Some things never change – many’s the time when coming home on leave, I’d be told to change and get on another train, only to get to another station and get back on the exact same train I got off earlier. You would think that the Computer Age would have improved such things, but seemingly not – we still get revised timetables (during engineering works, etc) that feature trains times to pass each other in opposite directions on single line…

    On a semi-related note, some good news: Now that the weather has improved slightly, the workmen are back in Clarbeston Road, installing the train information screen/public address system on the Up and Down platforms.

  3. Rhydgaled

    Another information problem that I have discovered would leave you stuck at Clarbeston Road for over four hours. This image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76103602@N03/8444990487 shows an information display at Shrewbury, directing passengers to board the 15:47 to Milford Haven and change at Clarbeston Road for a Fishguard connection, on a Sunday. Come on information system, WAG and ATW may have given Fishguard extra trains for the rest of the week, but not on Sundays.

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