Fishguard’s three-year experimental rail service is to be reviewed this month. Replying to questions from Fishguard Trains, Welsh Government today confirmed that “arrangements for the review … have been approved and will start next week”.
The recent publication of Arriva’s West Wales May-December 2014 timetable, taking the three-year experimental service well into a fourth year – unchanged – triggered our questions to Welsh Government. Their reply today makes clear that a review will indeed be held, and that government will announce “any changes” this August – the final month of the trial.
In their announcement, Welsh Government makes clear that its review goes far wider than a simple matter of passenger numbers, to embrace both social and economic issues. Their reply in full reads:
- The extent to which the services have improved the lives of people living in Pembrokeshire through improved access to rail and other transport networks
- The benefits that the additional services have provided on the local economy
- If access to enhanced rail services has encouraged less use of private motor vehicles
We will of course be giving details of the review – and how to contribute – on this website.
Fishguard Trains welcomes the broad scope of the review. Anyone who has had any contact with the service in the past few years knows that the impact on our lives in north Pembrokeshire has been out of all proportion to the modest public investment in five extra trains a day. Past and present stories and comments on Fishguard Trains are part of the evidence of that impact.
But it is not enough for us simply to know that: Now is the time to tell government in Cardiff, to provide evidence that the benefits to our economy, our society and our environment have been real and measurable.
Fishguard Trains has both praised and criticised the trial service. The evidence we now provide to the review is not only a one-off chance to secure the future of the service, but a key moment to identify shortcomings, and obtain improvements for the future.
Let’s seize the opportunity with both hands.