December Diary

new station at Energlyn

Four trains an hour

Fishguard and Goodwick is no longer Wales’ newest station. Welcome, Energlyn and Churchill Park!

Opened this week, the new station fits between Aber and Llanbradach on the Cardiff-Rhymney line. So now, while tiny Fishguard has two stations, Caerphilly has leapt to three – Caerphilly, Aber and Energlyn. Still, at least Fishguard has twice as many stations as Swansea.

Now, how about a few more trains?


Arriva’s winter timetable starts this week and runs until 17 May 2014. We’ve updated the times and destinations in our Departures widget, so it’s handy to check when you’re travelling from and to Fishguard and Goodwick. As ever, click on a departure time for more information. The yellow boxes are trains going east, the green are for arrivals from the east – or if you prefer, departures to the Harbour and Ireland. The next two trains are always highlighted white on black. In the last ten minutes, the white time turns red, so  hurry up!


With the winter timetable comes Arriva’s Newsletter, celebrating ten years of service: “dramatic strides in improving punctuality and reliability”, “one of the top ‘right time’ performing operators in the UK”, customer satisfaction at a “record high of 88% today”. So three cheers for Arriva.


On the other hand, Wales is bottom of the UK league for value for public money invested in rail. A new study* by the Campaign for Better Transport published at the same time as Arriva’s Newletter, reveals that, compared to Scotland and the English regions, Wales is in a class of its own: out of eleven rail regions, Wales is worst for future plans, worst for station quality, second lowest for trips per head of population, and so on, building miserably to a picture of chronic under-performance. Yet at the same time, public funding per passenger kilometer is highest in Wales. Result – nowhere else in Britain spends so much (per passenger km) and yet performs as badly as Wales. We “face the greatest challenges” says the Campaign. Service is below average despite financial support above average. The Campaign urges Wales to identify best practice elsewhere in Great Britain, and implement it.

This is the equivalent of a PISA report for Welsh railways. We’re not only bottom of the UK class for basic learning, we’re also bottom for delivering a decent railway and getting value for our taxes.


Fishguard Trains proposes four steps for best practice:

1 integrated services and timetables (rail and bus)

2 integrated ticketing – an all-Wales Oyster card

3 unified branding, marketing and promotion

4 full control and accountability by Welsh Government


* The Effectiveness of the Rail Network Across Great Britain. Campaign for Better Transport, November 2013.


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2 Responses to December Diary

  1. Rhydgaled

    Comments on the four steps you proposed:

    1. integrated services and timetables (rail and bus)
    I’ve spent (rather too many?) hours trying to come up with a way to intergrate bus services into the Fishguard trial rail services and it is proving to be a right headache. When I get something to work, it generally breaks a connection elsewhere, or leaves buses sitting arround doing nothing for hours.

    2. integrated ticketing – an all-Wales Oyster card
    I wrote a bunch of stuff about why it isn’t Oyster and the through-tickets currently available, but decided it just muddied the water.

    The thing that really matters is the conditions on the tickets. Currently, if you miss the last train due and it is the fault of the railway (eg. earlier delayed train) the railway is obliged to get you to your destination station (eg. by taxi). However, if you miss the last bus you’ve had it, even if it is the railway’s fault.

    Of course none of that will be of any use to anyone if WAG proceed to slash the concessionary travel reimbursments and all the bus operators go bust.

    3. unified branding, marketing and promotion
    Not sure the unified branding is actually necessary, just need to make potential passengers see buses as an option rather than dismissing them as a mode for under 26s, failures and the elderly. In fact, if unified branding means liveries such as the mess that is TrawsCymru’s I’d recomend staying well clear. A good unified brand though could be helpful, if not necessary.

    4. full control and accountability by Welsh Government
    Or by local authorities, WAG appears to be rather focused on the south east at times (the Cardiff Airport Express TrawsCymru costing more than half the TrawsCambria network at its height for example). Just do something to stop bus operators taking complete control by making routes commerial, as Arriva did in Aberystwyth causing the cancelation of the TrawsCymru Aberystwyth-Carmarthen project (the new TrawsCymru buses eventually went to Cardiff airport instead).

  2. Anthony

    Something else we have missed is the additional trains being run between Westbury and Swindon via Melksham which until December only had 2 trains each way at stupid times.

    The line used to have 5 trains each way when operated buy Wessex trains until FGW decided to use the units elsewhere saying the service wasnt being used by many which was a bit of a lie as it turned out.

    I am sure many here woudl wish Melksham luck with their additional trains after a long hard campaign just like we have done to get the additional Fishguard services

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