Friday 14 January 2011

Taking the scenic route

The railway services to and from West Wales have been a pretty regular theme of this blog.  Whilst the service from Carmarthen has improved in recent years, the services further west remain poor and infrequent, not least because of the division of the line at Whitland. 
One of the better developments has been the introduction of the service between West Wales and Manchester using modern trains.  It’s particularly useful from Carmarthen, but again the variation in end points between Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock has made it less of an improvement for those further west.  It’s a service I’ve used a couple of times a month in recent years, mostly just to get to Cardiff or Newport.
It is therefore with some dismay that I discovered earlier this week that the timetable has changed – for the worse – when I boarded the 8:30 from Carmarthen.  The problem is well illustrated by the National Rail Enquiries website, which I used after returning home – because I simply couldn’t believe what they’d done to the service.
The NRE website recommends the following route to Manchester from Carmarthen at that time of day.  At 8:30 in Carmarthen, board the Pembroke Dock to Manchester Piccadilly service; change at Swansea to the Swansea to Paddington service; and then change again at Bristol Parkway for the Temple Meads to Manchester service, arriving Manchester at 13:59.
If you’ve nothing better to do, you can then sit on the platform for a quarter of an hour, until 14:15, when the train that you caught from Carmarthen to Swansea – which has followed the more direct route – will gracefully pull into the station.  How can this be?  Simple – the train now spends 30 minutes sitting at the platform at Swansea instead of pulling in and leaving a few minutes later.
Now, it might be argued that not many people travel all the way from Carmarthen to Manchester anyway, and that would be true.  But quite a few do travel from Carmarthen to Cardiff, and a service which used to be direct now involves a change of train – or a half hour delay – at Swansea.  This is a step backwards for services from West Wales and I cannot understand how those running the franchise – let alone those supposed to be managing and monitoring it – have allowed this to happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


It only goes to show that a simple journey can open your eyes to a whole range of problems and maybe also to some you may have not thought of ie what happens to the crew at the end of that journey Where is the train going onto next when does it refuel, get cleaned, serviced etc
A good blog raises these questions
so how do we translate our experiences into changes that will benefit others and Wales as a whole