Ten minutes – good news and bad news

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Valley Lines and South Wales Main Line will be electrified, and the two governments have settled their funding dispute. Now it’s full speed ahead for Wales’ first ever rail electrification.

Splendid news, and credit to new Welsh Secretary Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb for prioritising solutions over disputes. It promises the best possible future for public transport throughout south-east Wales. And that is despite some media commentators finding no better way of explaining the benefits of electrification than shaving ten minutes off the Cardiff to Merthyr and Treherbert times. It is so much more than that.

But at the same time, ten minutes and more is the bad news for travellers to Fishguard and the west. Arriva’s timetable from December 14th onwards contains some nasty surprises. Here’s just one comment from a Fishguard Trains regular:

The winter timetable from Fishguard is going to add about 15 minutes to the journey to Swansea and beyond. The 06.47 first train will lead to a long wait of 17 minutes at Clarbeston Road for the Milford service; is the shelter there good enough for such a wait in winter weather? The second train, moved forward to 07.50 is going to sit in Carmarthen station for 17 minutes before moving on, on the old timetable. This is going to discourage use of these trains. All this to satisfy a whim at Cardiff about getting commuters to Carmarthen. Fishguard is getting a very raw deal; is a journey time of THREE HOURS to Cardiff acceptable – 37 mph average speed? I think this is one to shout from the roof tops and to Stephen Crabb.

 Do you agree that this is a whim from Arriva’s Cardiff  head office?

Do you support prioritising local commuter traffic between Fishguard and Carmarthen over long-distance travellers?

With only seven trains a day each way, timetabling is always going to be a juggle of compromises.   Has Arriva got this one right or wrong? If ten minutes less is such good news for Merthyr, is ten minutes more equally bad news for Fishguard?

Let’s hear your views, and we’ll make sure Stephen Crabb does – though with the franchise renewal now in Welsh hands, perhaps this is one for Carwyn.

 

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