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:
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:
♦ 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?