The time is 19:25, on a chilly winter evening in Carmarthen. The 19:02 is late arriving from Cardiff and Swansea, and now it has left the station for Tenby, 20 minutes late. On the deserted platform, a woman is in tears. She has missed the last connecting bus to Aberystwyth. That bus left on time at 19:07. No one can help her. Arriva Trains Wales is not responsible for missed bus connections. Bus operators don’t have to wait for trains.
19:02 to 19:07 leaves just five minutes to connect from train to bus. Long enough when the train is on time at Carmarthen. It might even make sense if the bus was guaranteed to wait, or if transport operators were required to pick up the pieces when it didn’t. But none of that is true. The result, when the train is delayed a few minutes – a woman in tears on Carmarthen station.
That night changed our view about the campaign to restore rail between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. Before, we suspected the ambition of reopening the rail link was unrealistic. Now we realise that reopening is about social justice and also about a Wales that wants to create connections for a successful economy. A country which gives no guarantee that we can travel between our major centres after seven o’clock, and where to do so risks spending the night on Carmarthen Station is signalling a clear message: failure.
So Fishguard Trains is delighted to hear from Rob Phillips about the recently formed Carmarthen-Aberystwyth Rail Link Campaign – Traws Link Cymru. The campaign already has over 160 members, and a new website: www.trawslinkcymru.org.uk
Rob Phillips writes to us: “We’d really like to work with you – especially with the review of the extra trains coming up – we can send out messages to our supporters etc but we’d also like your help. Could you help us publicise the campaign and get our website and Facebook Group better known please? We’re also keen to spread the word about a debate called next week [on March 12th] in the Assembly by Simon Thomas AM on re-instating the line and encourage people to let their AMs know how they feel?”
We are delighted to support Traws Link Cymru. And we invite Assembly members to consider if leaving travellers in tears on Carmarthen Station really is the best we can do.