Through trains to Fishguard

Halfway through the consultation period, the Welsh Government Rail Unit today issued a revised timetable for the extra Fishguard trains running from September. View the revised timetable here:

Annex 1 to consultation letter June

and the revised consultation letter here:

Revised Consultation letter June

During early feedback (the government says it is ‘very pleased with the level of interest shown so far’), Fishguard Trains alerted the Rail Unit to two errors in the first release, and today’s timetable is now corrected.

But surprisingly, the new timetable still does not show one of the strengths of the proposed new service – direct long distance services from Fishguard.

The early plan was for a shuttle service between Carmarthen and Fishguard. Passengers for destinations further east would change at Carmarthen. That could give better coverage across the day (compared to the current proposal which has a huge afternoon gap in service), and might be easier to understand. The Rail Unit today told Fishguard Trains that “there is no reason why such a service couldn’t be implemented”.

But what they now propose is something quite different,  some might say better: no less than eight of the fourteen trains serving Fishguard will start or terminate east of Carmarthen. Some will extend to Swansea, some to Cardiff, and at least one will be through to Manchester.

That may be very good news to Fishguard travellers, who, like most rail passengers, would prefer not to have to change. So it’s a mystery why the Welsh Government’s proposed timetable still doesn’t reveal these connections.

Here for the first time (and only here on Fishguard Trains) is the full proposed timetable showing all through services to and from Fishguard:

new new new ferry new new ferry
London (08:45) (12:45) (14:45) (20:15)
Cardiff 06:42 10:57 15:30 (17:04) (22:26)
Swansea 07:50 (11:37) 16:40 (18:09) 23:45
Carmarthen 05:50 (05:58) 08:40
08:50
(11:23) 17:32 (19:02) 00:33
Whitland 06:04 (06:13) 09:04 12:44 17:51 (19:18)
19:38
00:48
Clarbeston Road 06:16 (06:27)
07:33
09:19 (11:31) 18:07 19:54 01:02
Fishguard 06:41 07:57 09:41 13:25 18:34 20:16 01:29
Fishguard 06:53 08:06 09:55 13:30 18:49 20:26 01:50
Clarbeston Road 07:16
(07:28)
08:25 10:14 19:08 20:46 02:10
Whitland (07:41) 08:39 10:28 14:02 19:22
(19:44)
20:59 02:22
Carmarthen (08:01) 08:57 10:48
11:04
14:19
(14:31)
(20:05) 21:18
(22:35)
02:44
Swansea (08:49) 09:50 11:51 (15:22) (20:47) (23:45) 03:29
Cardiff (09:46) 10:48 (12:47) 16:04 (21:50) (05:14)
London (12:02) (13:06) (15:08) (18:24) (07:35)
Cheltenham 17:35
Manchester 14:15 (16:15)

NOTES

♦ Through trains in bold, connection times in (brackets & italics).

♦ The table shows all direct trains to and from Fishguard. More connections are possible.

♦ The 15:30 departure from Cardiff to Fishguard is amended from the 15:14 shown in the Rail Unit’s timetable, in line with their proposal to retime the current service.

♦ The connecting service to Manchester arriving at 16:15 may be another through service, with no need to change at Swansea – it just may not be announced as a guaranteed through service by Arriva.

Confirming these through services to Fishguard Trains today, the Rail Unit added a note of caution: ‘The through services are still subject to changes arranging from a number of factors relating to further development of the timetable. This obviously includes changes to train times following consultation conclusions, but also other potential factors such as Network Rail validation’.

Fishguard Trains certainly criticises the shortcomings in the proposed timetable – two services from Carmarthen before 6am, trains which will probably run empty, and no afternoon service in either direction. But finally we can see some strengths as well. The question is, can we keep the through services and also do something about those shortcomings?

 

15 Comments

Filed under News & weather, Timetables

15 Responses to Through trains to Fishguard

  1. Well done, Mike. Will send in my comments — this begins to look good, and thanks for all the hard work on hassling the powers that be!

    Some of these trains look very convenient indeed. I shall surely use them from time to time.

  2. James Stewart

    To boost ‘green’ tourism, the point about connections and convenience is essential – a point I have made in my reply to the consultation. Keep up the good work!

  3. Rhydgaled

    Oopps.

    I hope whoever is typing out the consultation document has made another error, otherwise all the through services between Cardiff and Fishguard (except the Cardiff to Fishguard boat train, but including the 13:30 departure) have been removed. ALL the times at Cardiff for the eastbound direction are in brackets. The arrival time is still 16:04 though, so it does look like somebody carelessly inserted extra brackets to show you have to change when really you don’t.

  4. Swansea Jack

    Thank you for the latest timetable you’ve produced here. Showing the through services and connections does show that this proposed service is able to facilitate a large number of journeys. There are some great strengths in there. I appreciate the issue with the long afternoon gap, but if your train is running through from Cardiff , departing at 15:30 I cannot see how it could be leaving Fishguard at a similar time, much as I can see that a 16:00 ish (4pm) Eastbound departure would be useful.

    We need Goodwick station though!

  5. Jeremy Martineau

    Goodwick station is essential to make this trial an effective and honest one. Trains for tourists will need more space for bicycles than Arriva usually provide and Fishguard is a prime tourist destination. These trains could be more relevant for people coming to North Pembs even than we locals travelling further afield. Now that Swansea are in the Premier Football Division will Arriva be able to provide enough space for those going to matches? Their failure to plan for international rugby matches involving Ireland/Wales doesn’t give grounds for hope.
    Could one early morning train start at Fishguard?

    • Spad

      A pattern is emerging in your comments here on Fishguard Trains: there’s a big welcome for the new service, and we’re less bothered about the details of timing than its accessibility – and that means Goodwick Station.
      Just because the government isn’t consulting on that, doesn’t mean that we can’t send that message to government. Fishguard Trains is now consulting with local groups to see if there is time to arrange a public meeting in the last two weeks of the consultation. Contact us now with your views on that or any other rail-related issue, and keep watching this space!

      • Rhydgaled

        Accessibility, yes. It doesn’t just mean Goodwick station though, it also means good bus connections from beyond Fishguard (which is more to do with the detailed timings of the buses than the detailed timings of the trains, but is very hard to do with an uneven train service and our present clockface bus service) and no massive gaps in the schedule. You can’t access the service if there isn’t one for many hours, and similarly the possiblity of a long wait on the return trip could put passengers off choosing the train. So long as the service is spaced reletivly evenly and the buses can connect (in this case they also have to try and connect to trains at Haverfordwest at the same time), the exact details of the timing are not important.

        Going back to Goodwick station, I went for a look today and it looks (not sure) that the sag in the roof is more pronounced. I was happy to let restoration wait, but if the condition really has deteriated then we need to get it restored now. The platform also seemed shorter than I remembered, so although the gap is smaller at the inland end they might actually be right about having to build it out or put the track back where it is supposed to be.

        I’ve noticed a few problems with the new bus information displays (now confirmed not photoshoped!). In Haverfordwest, they just say the bus is going to Cardigan (rather than Cardigan via Fishguard as it says on the front of the bus – if you know the geography of Pembrokeshire but not the bus services you might expect a bus from Haverfordwest to Cardigan to go the direct route, so might not think to use that bus to go to Fishguard). That’s just nitpicking, the real problem is at Fishguard. The town service is just displayed as ‘410 Fishguard’. That isn’t very helpful if you want to know which service goes to Harbour Village, which to Fishguard Harbour and which to Stop And Call without consulting the timetable.

        • Swansea Jack

          Rhydgaled, I appreciate where you are coming from but Goodwick is the key to the bus connections – there is a Fishguard to Goodwick bus every half hour, it is a commercial service and cannot be influenced by PCC. It would however provide a good link from the trains at Goodwick and Fishguard town, together with links to Pen-cw and Stop and Call etc. The Fishguard – St Davids and Strumble Shuttle buses can also serve Goodwick rather easily, although the 412 may be more of an issue.

          The even interval timetable sounds great in theory but it doesn’t serve expected travel patterns very well. You also have the big issue of resourcing a set of stock to work out of Fishguard mid-afternoon when you are simultaneously trying to run your only train out of Swansea to serve the day trip market in the evening peak – your 1 train cannot be in 2 places at once and you are not going to get another train – there are no spare DMU vehicles in the UK other than the one we are to get in September. You will not get a set of stock stabled overnight in Fishguard either – those days are long gone unfortunately.

          You will also not get NR to slew the track back against the platform – you’ll need to move the platform edge towards the line, or extend the Southern end of the platform. (read up about Aberdare station for evidence there). A station like Goodwick would expect only a bus shelter type affair these days – I cannot see the money being there to restore the old building unfortunately. Whitland is far busier yet has its buildings boarded up.

          I agree that the bus information boards need fine tuning though.

          • Rhydgaled

            What unit we are going to get in September? If you have the planned diagrams for units that run to Fishguard I’d like to see them, but I don’t think they’ve actually found us any extra units at all. The 3 morning trains are 2 units which I’m guessing would otherwise have started their day in Carmarthen and headed off for Manchester (I think that might be being provided at the expense of the Pembroke – Manchester service). That leaves the 15:30 departure from Cardiff, which they extended from a Cardiff – Swansea service. This leaves it’s current return trip from Swansea to Cardiff without a unit.

            So basicly, the service uses existing resources, no extra units (although a Sprinter or Pacer might be found to run that Pembroke service as far as Swansea, Whitland or Carmarthen, and for the return leg of the Swansea – Cardiff).

            It doesn’t take advantage of the Arriva 150s currently leased to First Great Western, which if they aren’t back in Wales by September should be (judging by what I’ve read on the fourms regarding class 172 introduction in England) by December. I haven’t seen any up-to-date diagrams, but I think there are at least two Cheltenham – Maesteg ones operated by 158s. Stick those two 150s on those diagrams and we’d only be one 158 short of my plan for a 2-hourly Cardiff – Fishguard express service. Also, if Arriva try to use shortage of units as an excuse, tell them to use the mark 2 coaches they PURCHASED (not leased like everything else) but then let most of them sit unused (3 see service with the Holyhead – Cardiff WAG Express) on some crowded services to free up some units. I guess since we aren’t encumbered by ERTMS like the Cambrian, those 3 units for the Fishguard – Cardiff express could equally be 175 or 158 (I’d just prefer all 3 to be 158s). All that needs to be done is replace the busiest 3-car 175 diagram each day with a 4 or 5-car rake of those mark 2s and we have 3 units, BANG problem solved. Well, almost, it’s not quite that easy since you can’t run locos round stock in many places anymore, and certainly not when reversing at a station like Carmarthen and still keep time. That is solvable (get hold of the DBSO mark 2s to go with Arriva’s and fit up some locos to work with them) but not before December at the earliest.

            I’m happy with any improvment in service til December, but we need to ensure we have a proper service from then on. Pembroke and Milford may not have fully clockface timetables at the moment, but they don’t have a huge gap in the afternoon. A gap in the normally every two hours schedule of buses from Aberystwyth to Cardigan (which is still alot smaller than the afternoon gap in the Fishguard timetable) has been enough for members the the family to go by car instead.

            Goodwick station’s building should be restored, if I had enough information about it I’d have submitted a request to list it. Whitland’s building too should be re-opened, a bus shelter is not sufficent. However, I doubt either station warrants a ticket office. A council-managed fully-enclosed public waiting room (prefrablly public toliets too) would do nicely at both, Pembroke Dock and Tenby deserve the same treatment (they may already be open, I don’t know) and, were there still buildings at Milford and Pembroke I’d say they should be opened up as well.

            As for the buses, it is the 412 I am worried about. St David’s has the 411 to Haverfordwest to connect with trains, and Cardigan has the 460 to Carmarthen. Therefore, for these places it comes down to whether the connections are better via Fishguard (in Cardigan’s case, the jouney times mean they are only likely to be interested in going via Fishguard on Fishguard’s direct services to Cardiff/Swansea). However, once the 412 has left Cardigan, and the 413 has left St David’s anywhere on the routes until Fishguard is a potential catchment area if the connections are sorted. I think Egllsrwrw, Newport, Dinas Cross and Lower Fishguard probablly add up to a larger population than the intermediate villiages between Fishguard and St Davids. IF our train service was clockface, the obvious thing to do I think would be cut the frequency of the 412 between Fishguard and Cardigan (leaving the Haverfordwest – Fishguard bit hourly) and extend the 413 through to Cardigan to bring the frequency of buses between Fishguard and Cardigan back up to one an hour. I also suggest giving Richards Bros the two TrawsCambria X40 (Cardiff) Optare Tempo buses when the new X40 vehicles are introduced, re-arranging the seats to provide the legroom of Richard’s X50 Tempos (YJ55BKE and YJ55BKF). These two extra buses would be used to incoporate the extended 413 into the X50 from Aberystwyth. There is no way this would work unless the train service was clockface.

            Please excuse my spelling (mainly my failure to spell Egllswrw).

  6. John Davies

    I agree that Goodwick station is key here. The harbour station is too isolated.

  7. Pam Morgan

    Trains that get into Cardiff in time for (business) meetings that start at 10 would be useful, also connections to the trains to Cardiff Airport. Booking of seats would also be helpful (not currently available on the trains into Fishguard)

  8. Jeff Rogers

    It would be useful as an option for commuters to Haverfordwest if the 8:06 from Goodwick left 10/15 mins earlier so that the 8:20 from Clarbeston road could be picked up to travel to Haverfordwest instead of missing it by 5 mins at an 8:25 arrival.
    The other end of the day looks more complicated to resolve.

    • Spad

      You are the first person to raise the question of Pembrokeshire links. Fishguard Trains would like to know who else might use connecting trains between Fishguard and Haverfordwest, Milford, Narberth, Tenby, Pembroke … ? Yes, we do have buses running those routes, but have you seen how poorly bus services connect the north and south of our county? If trains could do better, could that increase passenger numbers on the Fishguard branch?

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