Fate of a Station

Nearly forty years after Fishguard & Goodwick Station closed to passengers, the fate of the abandoned station is rapidly becoming a key issue in local discussion of our new rail service.

Two months ago, Fishguard Trains asked “what possible reason can prevent the reopening of F&G in time for September?” We showed how Network Rail built and opened a complete station (in Cumbria, not Cymru) in six days from start to finish.

In May we reported that Network Rail and Pembrokeshire County Council have agreed to look in detail at the feasibility of reopening Fishguard & Goodwick Station, following a site visit to the rapidly decaying station.

Commenting this month, Swansea Jack says “We need Goodwick station though!” Jeremy Martineau agrees: “Goodwick station is essential to make this trial an effective and honest one.” Meanwhile Rhydgaled has been back to the station and reports “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.” To which Swansea Jack responds: “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.”

plan of Goodwick Conservation Area

a Station to Conserve

Here’s a plan of the Conservation Area in Goodwick, “an area of special architectural and historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance” (Planning (Listed buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990). Demolition within Conservation Areas requires consent. Pembrokeshire County Council designated the centre of Goodwick, which also has many individually listed buildings “to ensure that the character of the area is protected.” Notice how the Council went out of its way to INCLUDE the station in the Conservation Area. If the station buildings collapsed or were demolished, the whole extension of the Conservation Area over the railway line would be pointless.

Fishguard Trains thinks the best way for the planning authority to preserve and enhance this part of the Conservation Area is to restore the buildings to their original purpose. That can’t happen by September. But what can happen is “a bus shelter type affair” along the platform, PLUS security fencing around the building, PLUS an architectural rescue plan for the old buildings. Do you agree?

10 Comments

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10 Responses to Fate of a Station

  1. Rhydgaled

    A bus shelter would look awful next to the wonderful station building. I hope bus shelters can be picked up like porta-loos and moved, so we can have one until the station building is opened and then it can go to become a real bus shelter as opposed to a bus shelter pretending to be a railway station building. I’ve used the e-mail address you conntacted me on before to send you some photos of the station SPAD. See if you agree the roof has deteroriated, and feel free to illustrate posts supporting the restoration of the station building with the photos I sent.

  2. John Crump

    Restoration of Goodwick Station to at least Halt status by September’11, is essential for the success of the revised rail service. As is linking bus services to this location, as is common in Europe. What is the matter with our so called ‘representatives of the people’, who seem hell bent on not spending any monies, that we give them, to benefit ‘the people’?

    • Rhydgaled

      As SPAD says, the Council seem to have gone out of their way to INCLUDE the station in the Conservation Area. That means saving the station building, which a recent article on the BBC website claimed may already be beyond repair, NOW is absolutly vital or the whole extension of the Conservation Area over the railway line would have been pointless.

      The question is, do you use the station building as a waiting room with public toliets, or do you leave the station shut and use the building for something else? A tourist information or cafe perhaps? Both sound good, but I think both factilies are already provided across the road at Ocean Lab. Opening the station has advantages, especially in providing bus connections, but with only 5 extra trains you have to sacrifice either early arrivals into Cardiff and Swansea or bus connections.

      Space the departing trains out every two hours at 50mins past, starting with a 07:50 departure from Goodwick (a few mins earlier at the Harbour) and extend the bus down from Cardigan to St Davids rather than Haverfordwest in these hours (running a connecting service from Fishguard itself to Haverfordwest) and the bus should connect nicely. However, the earliest you can possibly reach Cardiff then is around about 10:00, and that requires you to run the train direct to Cardiff, so to maintain the frequency you need 3 units.

      As far as I can tell, the timetable Arriva/WAG want to give us requires no additional units. The only extra stock likely to become available without incuring capital costs is the two Arriva Trains Wales units currently borrowed by First Great Western (FGW are meant to be giving them back soon), not enough. Those two units could allow many other improvments to our timetable, but with only 2 extra units and 5 extra trains to play with I can’t see any option that allows good connections and early arrivals in Cardiff without throwing the bus timetable into complete disarray like the rail timetable.

      • Swansea Jack

        I had a good look around the station at Goodwick in the sunshine yesterday. Much as I’d love to see the old building preserved, and be re-used as a railway station again, as an engineer I think it is beyond saving. There may be a way of someone like Scolton Manor trying to save as much as possible for display on their site or alternatively the Gwili Railway etc. The yard side wall of the building has collapsed meaning the roof has sagged and is only holding itself up now. The only reasonable bit is the platform side and the two end walls, although some of the roof trusses are possibly salvageable but some lower ends are rotten through. It is very unlikely the tourist information centre etc would relocate from the Ocean Lab site.

        Goodwick would not be a staffed station, just look at other stations serving similar sized communities around Wales these days. It would be good if a local taxi firm set up an office in the station area though as their presence would deter loiterers and should give them some business.

        Regarding bus services, it needs to be remembered that the 412 is not only used as a train connecting service, many passengers use it for journeys to Haverfordwest (Hospital, shopping, work etc) – you’ll notice that the direct 412s are busier than the ones that travel via Trecwn and Mathry Road – another detour via Goodwick, increasing journey times may work, but the existing passengers have to be considered.

        There would be a 1/2 hourly town service between Fishguard and Goodwick that could easily serve the reopened station, as could the Fishguard – St. Davids and Strumble Shuttle buses. A connection from the 412 into the town service may be an alternative to messing around with the 412 to H’west, but it does need looking at, once we know for certain that the station will reopen.

        As far as train services are concerned I think we do need to be realistic. We are not going to get 3 extra units – we will get the one extra that will mix in with the existing West Wales / Swansea trains to give us 5 extra trains a day. Carmarthen, Llanelli and H’west / Milford together cannot justify at present a regular service along the Swansea District line to Cardiff, I seriously doubt Fishguard can.

        The existing day boat train which uses the District line and the Carmarthen avoiding line does so because some of us pointed out back in the late 1990s that without going through a formal closure procedure for those 2 sections of line (the District line & Carmarthen Curve) they had to run at least 1 train a week over those lines! – what is known as a parliamentary service (like the 1 train a week between Stockport and Stalybridge in Greater Manchester).

        Personally I am overjoyed with the additional 5 trains – lets get these running full to capacity before we get too far ahead of ourselves. The news on the feasibility study for Goodwick is great news too, lets hope they can do a ‘Workington North’ over the next few months, as I see the station as critical to the success of the whole scheme.

        • Rhydgaled

          I appreciate that there would be an issue with diverting the 412 via Goodwick, which is why I suggested sending alternate services from Cardigan to St Davids instead of Haverfordwest (to connect places north of Fishguard to Goodwick station) with a connection from Fishguard Roundabout to Haverfordwest, which would not go via Goodwick. However I then went on to say that without more extra trains than we can possibly expect to get you would not be able to provide the necessary clockface train timetable to make that idea work without scarificing arrival times in Cardiff/Swansea and having a shuttle to Carmarthen only. I was meerly trying to point out that we can have 412 connections or the early arrivals in Cardiff, not both.

          The fact is SWWITCH seem to think Carmarthen / Milford / Haverfordwest / Tenby / Pembroke justify 2.5 trains per hour between Swansea and Carmarthen, I can’t remember how many of them would extend west of Carmarthen but a Fishguard – Carmarthen shuttle was included as well, which balances at least some of the Carmarthen terminators out. If west Wales justifies that lot, I cannot understand why they didn’t include any District Line Services. Personally I think a 2-hourly Cardiff – Carmarthen service via the District Line could be enough to start with if the services from Fishguard/Milford/Pembroke connect into it well enough, and if it were to extend further west the Milford branch probablly justifies it more than Fishguard. However, it is Fishguard that was most in need of (and is now getting) extra services and therefore the best way I can think of to try to get extra services via the Swansea District Line is to run them through to Fishguard (that, and the SWWITCH plans I’m refering to had Milford covered thourghly anyway, leaving Fishguard as the only west Wales line with only 1 daytime service beyond Carmarthen).

          I thought that the Swansea District Line workings to Fishguard were summer-only at one point (with the Fishguard services starting from Swansea in the winter). If that’s the case, the ‘parlementary service’ argument doesn’t really stack up.

          I really hope you are wrong about the station building, loosing it would be tragic. You are right about the station being unstaffed though, I’ve said it before somewhere and I’ll say it again (but in different words), ‘Fishguard & Goodwick and Whitland stations would not justify a ticket office. However, their importance (and Pembroke Dock and Tenby stations if they have no such facilities at present) warrants public toliets and a fully enclosed (ie. a building with close-able doors, not a draughty bus shelter) waiting room. These could be coucil-managed rather than railway-managed, which proablly makes such provisions much more likely.’

  3. Swansea Jack

    There may be some merit in services via the Swansea District line, but missing out the Swansea stop is a major concern – after all it is a (the) major traffic generator for West Wales. The advantage of services via the District line is that it can speed up through West Wales to Cardiff services somewhat – I’d say Cardiff to Llanelli would be just over the hour, while Llanelli to Carmarthen can be done in around half an hour – giving a potential Cardiff to Carmarthen time of around 1.5 hours which is certainly competitive time wise. The big issue is whether West Wales can justify an additional layer of trains avoiding Swansea while existing services serve Wales’ second city.

    I believe that with the SWWITCH proposals for service frequencies after Gowerton re-doubling it would be of interest to review the issue of Swansea District services once passenger and service levels have settled down into their post re-doubling pattern. Much as a parkway type station at Morrison might be justified a comprehensive review of journey patterns from the Swansea Valley / Morriston areas would be needed – especially considering the fact that it would be wholly unable to service the main journey generator in the area – namely Swansea itself.

    With regard to Summer only services via the Swansea Districts I would note that it was Summer only services that justified the existence of both the Copy Pit line in the Pennines and the Chandlers Ford line in Hampshire throughout the 1970s and 1980s, until more regular services were introduced. The Swansea Districts similarly tended to find use mainly in the Summer season with its use for Holiday trains to Tenby (from York and London) and the Summer boat trains from London to Fishguard – many of which didn’t run East of Swansea in the Winter months.

    I struggle to see the potential use of the old building at Goodwick justifying the expense of its restoration, although I do appreciate its historical importance in the early history of the North Pembrokeshire and Fishguard Railway. In recent months I have encouraged contact with Scolton Manor about any interest they may have in saving and relocating the old building to sit alongside their signalbox and Margaret. Unfortunately they have not shown any interest in what is an important part of the railway history of Pembrokeshire. After all if the NP&F Railway had not pushed its line West from Rosebush it is unlikely the mighty GWR would have gone to the expense of building the Harbour at all and we’d all have probably been talking about NeylandTrains.info! Remember it was the NP&FR that started the Fishguard & Rosslare Railways and Harbour undertaking not the GWR. I do think it is a real shame about Goodwick station building, but in reality it probably belongs in Scolton Manor rather than trying to find a use at the re-opened Goodwick station.

    • Rhydgaled

      I doubt adding an additional set of public toliets to the council’s rounds would add very much to the running costs. As I said any further facilities beyond toilets and a waiting room would probablly not be justified at Fishguard & Goodwick.

      Bus shelters simply are not adequate, any station building on a station in a significant settlement (ie. a town or city rather than a village or hamlet, so probablly not Clunderwen or Clarbeston Road, which in any case do not have buildings anymore anyway) should have an open waiting room. How even staffed stations such as Aberystwyth fail to have a waiting room I cannot understand, a waiting room is such an important facility.

      The article we’re commenting on here suggests SPAD thinks the Fishguard & Goodwick station building belongs where it is and put to use as a waiting room, not moved t0 Scolton Manor as purley a museum peice, and I agree.

    • Rhydgaled

      Oh, I forgot to reply to your points on the Swansea District Line. I don’t quite agree with your journey durations, but you are not far off the mark. By putting together the fastest existing westbound times (over two different services, as the fastest over the district line calls at the three stations between Cardiff and Bridgend) I’ve worked out Cardiff – Llanelli can be done in exactlly one hour (which to my supprise even includes stopping at Bridgend and Port Talbot, I had previously thought they would have to be ommited (as on the daytime boat train) to achive a 1hr Cardiff – Llanelli journey time). The fastest Carmarthen – Llanelli time is the boat train at 22mins.

      I have no idea how much investment would be required to achive Cardiff – Carmarthen in 1hr 22mins via Swansea, and anyway even that is slightly slower than the time it would take to drive (1hr 18mins according to AA journey planner). Now or course the journey planner probablly assumes no traffic, so for journeys into Cardiff rail would become time-competetive. However, for journeys beyond Cardiff the car stays on the M4 and bypasses central Cardiff, that means even 1hr 22mins isn’t fast enough. We won’t get faster than 1hr 22mins anytime soon, but if we ever want rail to be time-competetive here I’m sure it would be much cheaper and easier to use the Swansea District Line route as a starting point, and therefore we must ensure it is safeguarded and the best way to do that in my opinion is to get a regular service over it.

      Morrison parkway is a whole different kettle of fish. Stopping the train from west Wales to Cardiff there eats into the time savings if it is not coupled with linespeed improvments on the district line. However, I do wonder, in the much longer term, whether Swansea justifies it’s own ValleyLines, to form part of the existing ValleyLines network. From a hub at Swansea Docks, services could run on existing lines to Llanelli and Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen over the Swansea District Line, calling at the proposed parkway station(s). An existing line also runs almost as far as Glyn-Neath, reopening the section through there to Aberdare would link it to Cardiff’s ValleyLines. Another re-opened line from Abercraf, through Pontardawe, to join the Swansea district line could also be part of the network. I also wonder if a Llansamlet Low Level station, to provide interchange with the Swanline service above, would be a good idea. The final part of the network could be a tram from Mumbles, past Swansea High Street and the valleys hub at Swansea Docks, and then on over an existing railway to Seven Sisters and Onllwyn. Now I’m very off-topic since this website is supposed to be about FISHGUARD trains.

  4. Swansea Jack

    When looking I’ve come up with 61 minutes Cardiff Llanelli non-stop, while I get Llanelli Carmarthen as 23 minutes giving 1 hour 24 minutes as the likeliest fastest time. Pathing constraints and recovery time would likely push that to around the 1 hr 28 or so in reality – still rather better than via Swansea. Unfortunately the traffic densities do not warrant the service at present, although I fully agree that maintaining the Swansea district route may allow consideration of such a service at sometime in the future.

    In relation to Fishguard, as long as Ryan Air etc are able to avoid paying fuel duty for their planes the days of expresses thundering along the District line carrying hordes to Fishguard en-route to the ferries for trips to Killarney are long gone, unfortunately!

    • Rhydgaled

      What has Ryan air avoiding fuel tax got to do with faster trains between Cardiff and west Wales to compete with the M4? Granted, express services to speed passengers to the Irish ferries are a non-starter at the moment because of aviation and I hope the government come to their sences and tax aviation to reflect it’s enviormental damage. However, there are no flights to Pembrokeshire or Carmarthen, so rail is only up against the car on these journeys, and motorists are fuel-taxed.

      Anyway, looking at the East Coast website there is a 22:09 service from Cardiff arriving Llanelli at 23:16, which it helpfully tells me is 1hr 7mins. Between the two, the service calls at Pontyclun, Llanharan, Pencoed, Bridgend and Port Talbot Parkway (at 22:47). 1hr 7mins is quite fast for a service with that many stops, and it doesn’t call at Swansea so looks like it uses the District Line. The time for Port Talbot to Llanelli is 29mins, which gives the time for the District Line. The fastest time between Cardiff and Port Talbot seems to be 31mins, achived by a few services including the 14:39 departure from Cardiff. Add that 31mins to the 29mins I found for Port Talbot – Llanelli and that’s how I got the 1hr Cardiff – Llanelli time. I apreaciate it is likely sections would have to be run slower than the times I have to fit the service in around everything else, but since I got these timings from the public timetable (East Coast website) I’d expect recovery time to already be included.

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