Wednesday 31 March 2010

Getting Pembrokeshire back on track

This week's announcement of the Wales Transport Plan by Ieuan Wyn Jones contained much that is good and should be welcomed. At a strategic level, I am convinced that transport policy in Wales is starting to move in the right direction, with the emphasis switching from road building to improving public transport.

That's not to say that I'm entirely happy with it though, and there is one issue which jumped out at me. The plan continues to argue that the 5 mile stretch of single rail track between Gower and Loughor is a major pinch-point, and that it restricts the potential growth of passenger traffic to the west of Swansea.

This is, to put it bluntly, simply not true. There is no reason at all why services should not run along the alternative, already dualled, Swansea District Line, which effectively bypasses Neath and Swansea, as well as bypassing the single track section of line in question. Indeed, a small number of services already do use this line. Working with our colleagues in Preseli-Pembrokeshire constituency, we put together a clear and comprehensive case for the use of that line, and refuted totally the argument that there is any dependency on the Gowerton line.

Services to Llanelli and Carmarthen, and more especially to Pembrokeshire, which receives a much less frequent service from Whitland (where the line splits, as shown in the picture) onwards could be increased significantly with no investment at all in track – the investment we need is in rolling stock. The real dependency is not on the single line stretch, but on the insistence of government and train operators that all trains to West Wales need to stop at Swansea. That is, of course, a completely different argument.

It's not an argument that convinces me, however. We did not propose any reduction whatsoever in the services to and from Swansea – what we proposed were extra services to the far west which simply bypass Swansea completely. Longer term, there's the potential for another Swansea station on that alternative route – a parkway station at the M4 service would be ideal – but for people travelling between West Wales and Cardiff, say (or further east), those extra services could be easily introduced now.

This is an issue where we locally will not accept the conclusion of the plan – we will continue to campaign and pressurise for a better rail service for Pembrokeshire.


Anonymous said...

John i travel from Haverfordwest to work in swansea daily and the trains two hourly are terribble are their any plans at all too increase the number of trains to haverfordwest?? why hasnt this been done in the past???

Jeff Jones said...

Back to the future John.In the pre nationalisation days of steam it was quite common for express trains from London not to go into Swansea but instead to stop at Landore. Passengers would then get on another train in order to reach High Street. The reason for this in the age of steam was with High Street a dead end you needed another loco to enable the train to continue to West Wales and the Irish ferry.

John Dixon said...


Increasing the frequency of trains between Haverfordwest and Swansea DOES depend on redoubling the track near Gowerton, if they run direct.

John Dixon said...


Exactly the point we've been making. This line was built to provide an express service to and from West Wales, and it's being used for a bit of freight and two passenger services per day, but has more capacity (because it's twin track) than the 'bottleneck' track at Gowerton. Swansea M4 Services would be a better location for a new station than Landore, though. Park and Ride express service to Cardiff and London, and increasing the services to Pembrokeshire as well.

Really can't understand why this is not being pushed by the Government.

Anonymous said...

it is a very good news for pembrokeshire

senn said...

its more environmentally sustainable..the amount of money WAG is funding arriva and the amount arriva charges for fares is far too high, both WAG and arriva need to push train travel more.. I agree it is more rolling stock