A charter service visited the line on Sunday 29th November, featuring a West Coast Railways Class 47 as the train engine and a Network Rail Class 97 in the lead, the latter displaying Welsh Mud livery. The ensemble is seen here stabled at Aberystwyth. Photo:- Peter G Williams
You can download a copy of our latest newsletter in *.pdf format.
Aberystwyth Wetherspoon's have installed a large TV screen in their main bar area, giving up-to-date train
departure information, which is a great idea. We think that a similar device in the Old Station at Welshpool would be helpful.
The interior of the rebuilt booking office at Aberystwyth Station. Photo;- Gareth Marston
Work to provide more car parking space at the station continues apace, with the former stationmaster's house already having been cleared away to make the land available.As part of the scheme the number of disabled car parking spaces will also be doubled from two to four. Also, the public toilet block on the east side of the station has been demolished, with facilities now being provided in the station building as a temporary measure. We hear that a brand new toilet block is to be constructed at the original location.
Meanwhile the story of the multi million pound DDA compliant footbridge rumbles on. International construction
giant Balfour Beatty who are constructing the bridge had hit problems in July with securing a firm
footing on the UP platform side. Rumours emanating from the site were that the station and therefore
the line eastwards would have to be shut in order for the work to be finished with bus replacements
between Newtown and Machynlleth for some time. Machynlleth station is actually built on landfill from
Talerddig cutting in order to raise it above the floodplain of the River Dyfi and beneath the rubble is
the silt of an old river bed and an underground stream. Work had resumed by mid-September without
disrupting services. We understand that ATW are saying work will be complete in December.
One result of the construction work is that where possible, only the Down platform at Machynlleth is used for the time being. Passengers from Up coastline trains are sometimes being advised to change at Dovey Junction as a temporary measure.
Members of the public who have questions about the programme should call the Network Rail 24-Hour National Helpline on 08457 11 41 41.
The Station Action Group have been involved in timetable planning to estimate the impact of the proposed reopened station may have on services. SARPA members have been assisting with this.
The exercise has been looking at what is
physically possible within the constraints of infrastructure and the
characteristics of the 158.
Carno lies within the passing loops of Welshpool/Fron and Talerddig so this
is the critical section to consider. The running time from Welshpool to
Talerddig (uphill) is 31.5 min including stops at Caersws and Newtown. In
the opposite direction (downhill) it is 30 min. Of course for trains running
hourly in each direction they must pass every 30 min or less. Hence the need
for the Welshpool/Fron section of double track to enable trains to pass west
This timing is quite tight and if an UP train is just a minute or two late, an on-time DOWN train
could well have to wait at Fron.
The conclusion is that an additional stop between Talerddig and Welshpool
is not possible for any train which passes another at BOTH Talerddig AND
However in the present timetable not every train does pass another at both
places so some could take an extra stop at Carno within its schedule. It
would extend the total running time by about 2 or 3 mins. Such trains would
have to depart Shrewsbury 2/3 mins earlier in the DOWN direction and arrive
there 2/3 mins later in the UP direction.
Given that the layover at Aberystwyth is very tight and that some trains
also pass another at Dovey Junction, it is reasonable to assume that no
change can be made to the timings west of Talerddig. So the only trains
which could accommodate an extra stop at Carno are those which have a clear
run between Talerddig and Shrewsbury. Exceptions would be the first
train UP from Aber (the 05.30) and the last one DOWN from Shrewsbury (the
20.30) as these have a clear run between Welshpool and Aber except for
passing short workings between Mach and Aber at Dovey Junc which
could possibly be adjusted.
So bearing in mind the constraints above the trains which COULD have an
EXTRA stop at Carno are as follows:
From Shrewsbury - 06.25, 11.29, 15.30, 17.27, 20.30
From Aberystwyth - 05.30, 07.30, 11.30, 13.30, 15.30
Newtown Station Travel has been opening slightly earlier to accommodate travellers
for the 0738 to Shrewsbury from the start of the enhanced service timetable on May 18th.
Until the end of November the booking office had a large TV screen mounted on the wall showing "Of
time and the railway" DVD by Robert Davies on a continuous loop.
Powys County Council has completed work on the new bus station in the town. The design can only be described as disappointing and has proved unpopular with drivers and passengers alike. Instead of the straight through layout which pertained before the alterations, buses now pull into a dead end and have to reverse out again before continuing their journeys.
With pedestrians walking across the site at all times, a hazard has been created which quite simply was not there before. Drivers are not be able to see anyone walking across in their blind spots whilst reversing. Also, the seats in the shelters face away from the buses, which means passengers have to turn round to check if it is their bus which has arrived at the stand.
Probably designed by people who never use buses. Looks pretty though!
Despite now being the busiest intermediate station on the line the station still has the perhaps the
poorest facilities. We pointed out to TraCC a number of years ago that on current growth
trends and the impending introduction of extra services that Welshpool would overtake other stations
in usage. In 2014/2015 we’ve been proved right. However plans for station works have
been prioritised on the basis of historical footfall not future need.
Progress in the creation of a car park in former goods yard to the east of the station has been
noted with tarmac put down in early October and the facility opened for use in late November.
Revenue protection squads were seen checking all passengers' tickets in early September.
Efforts by SARPA to have the Welshpool Town Bus service actually stop at the station continue to be fobbed off.
We have made representations to Network Rail regarding the centre freight road through the station. We understand there is a proposal to remove the track on Platform 3 and extend the structure outwards, utilising the present freight line for the purpose of passenger trains stopping at Platform 3. This will be a retrograde step and has the potential to cause congestion in an increasingly busy station area.
The catering facilities on the station are in now in the hands of a Starbucks Coffee shop; this closes
by 1900. The selection of newspapers/magazines is greatly reduced. Prices indicate that the fare on offer is only intended for the seriously rich or the desperate.
The area in between the triangle of lines by Severn Bridge Junction signal box has been over
run by buddleia - again!
The Shrewsbury Rail User's Federation has been revived recently, thanks to much effort being put in by Sheila Dee of the Chester to Shrewsbury Rail Partnership in bringing this about. Unfortunately, by popular vote the group has declined thus far to form a constitution or to raise funds or to have a website, all of which may rather hamper its effectiveness in the longer term. However, other groups within the region are experiencing difficulty with filling officer posts and given that the Federation is made up of rail organisations local to Shrewsbury, whose memberships are already hard pressed for time, we quite understand the reasons why.
Birmingham New Street
The redeveloped Birmingham New Street was completed on 20th September, with the Grand Central shopping centre having its final opening on the 24th.
Touch screen enquiry displays have been introduced on the station concourse. These give details of the next direct train to the destination selected by touching the screen.
The final piece of the station's new atrium roof covering was put into place on over a year previously.
Made from the same high-tech material as the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Allianz Arena in Munich, the translucent roof covering has allowed natural light to stream down through the atrium onto the huge new concourse below - once demolition experts had removed around 6,000 tonnes of concrete over two floors of the old Pallasades shopping centre.
We understand that there are also proposals for a moving "travelator" which will operate between New St and Moor St stations.
We have included some photographs of the rebuilt station below. The webmaster rather feels that the striking atrium feature would be further enhanced by some large plant life. An opportunity for Birmingham Botanical Gardens perhaps?
The new atrium over the ticket hall and concourse. A great improvement. Photo:- Bs0u10e01/Wikimedia Commons
Entrance to the rebuilt station from the London end. Photo:- Bs0u10e01/Wikimedia Commons
Arriva to Float Again?
No, this has nothing to do with the recent inclement weather! Arriva's parent company, Deutsche Bahn (DB) has felt itself somewhat strapped for cash owing to repeated strikes over the past 12 months and the inroads that foreign operators like National Express are making into the company's domestic business. Thoughts are therefore being given over to the possibility of floating some of DB's overseas operations on the stock market once again, although the main problems are those affecting the domestic business, rather than the foreign companies. This could mean that Arriva and the UK Schenker operations may be either wholly or partially sold off. Whether this would mean the whole UK Arriva group or individual subsidiaries like Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales is not clear. All the same, the reduction in profits is only around 6% to 2.1 Billion Euros!
Enhanced Service Update
We have learned that a new Cambrian Lines Survey was carried out by the Shrewsbury Aberystwyth Rail Liaison Committee and this ended on Saturday 24th October. The results will form part of the report to the Minister regarding the services provided on both the Main and Coast Lines. We hear that there have been over 600 returns from the Coast and over 2,500 from the mainline.
Our group has been concerned at the astonishing lack of publicity for the new trains in the local area. Indeed, in Mid Wales it is almost non existent.
The tables below show departures of the enhanced services from Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth.Whilst they have been on the site for some time, we make no apology for retaining them.
Turnaround times @ Aberystwyth approx 14 min.
Dovey Junc - Dovey Junc times approx 54 min.
In our view,the absence of 0830 and 1630 departures from Shrewsbury are unfortunate. We hope that there are plans to strengthen the 1727 ex-Salop to cope with what undoubtedly will be heavy demand. Also, a 2030 departure from Aberystwyth in the summer months would probably be popular, though the present arrangements east of Shrewsbury would only allow the passenger to travel as far as Wolverhampton at that time of day.
The train graph of Cambrian Main Line services.
Film:- "A Helping Hand" Recently, an award winning film was produced by the Cambrian Railways Partnership with Arriva Trains Wales to give those who might need some extra assistance and advice on how to plan, organise and undertake a rail trip in the UK, and all the forms of assistance available. Advice and support was received from students and staff at Derwen College, Gobowen, and Coleg Ceredigion in making the movie, which is featured below.
Robert Davies is an artist living near Aberystwyth. He filmed every week from the cab of a Class 158 between Birmingham & Aberystwyth. The movie starts as the train enters Birmingham on a wintry night, travels through the Black Country and Shropshire in the morning as winter and spring pass and arrives in Shrewsbury at around mid-day. In summer it speeds through to Welshpool and as autumn approaches, runs through to Newtown and Caersws.It continues through winter to Talerddig and Machynlleth and arrives at Aberystwyth in the spring.
For those who haven't managed to see it yet, there are still a couple of venues showing the film:-
Shrewsbury Railway Station: 2 November – 3 January 2016
Aberystwyth Railway Station: 4 January – 28 February
Ticket Machines & Split Ticketing THE NEWS GOT IT WRONG... Self service ticket machines won't tell you cheapest price.
News reports in December told us that, from March, train ticket machines will tell you the cheapest
fare. NOT TRUE...
1) They just have to warn you they may not be cheapest.
2) They ignore split ticketing, which on some routes halves costs.
There are quite a number of split ticketing websites available. Here are a few to try
For looking up any fare:- www.brfares.com/ Will even offer you a day return from London Victoria to Calais, including sea passage for £39.50p.
Traws Link Cymru
The West Wales Rail Campaign - Traws Link Cymru(TLC) continues to make progress with its plan to re-instate rail links between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. They have also added their weight to the scheme to restore the line between Bangor and Afon Wen on the Cambrian Coast line, to create a rail corridor along the west coast of Wales.
A Scoping Report was delivered to the Welsh Government at the end of September. However, by the end of November there had been no response.Traws Link Cymru described the report as "A vital step towards the feasibility study,which in turn will report on the pro's/con's of reopening our line." They are also organising a microlight to overfly the route and make an aerial film of it. This should reveal how little of the track has been built over, and how beautiful the whole terrain is. The group plans to turn it into a DVD to sell to raise funds for the campaign and the proposed flight has generated intense media interest.
Mark Williams MP (Lib-Dem) and Jonathan Edwards MP (Plaid) attended a public meeting with the group on 19th November in Llandysul, which was followed by a question and answer session.
TWO TOGETHER RAILCARD.
Don't forget the Two Together Railcard (Yes, it has its own website) which allows two named people
over 16 to travel together and receive a discount of one-third off all fares, at all times
except between 0430 and 0930 on Monday - Friday. You don't have to be related! The card will cost
£30, and you can buy online here.
The card is also available from station ticket offices. Each person
must provide a passport photograph. The card can only be used when the two named people travel
together so does not replace any existing railcards.
The much vaunted and rather misguided Newtown Bypass. has actually been given the go-ahead, with construction due to start in December 2015. We firmly believe this to be the most astonishing waste of money, given that for most of the time, transit through Newtown is quite trouble free. Generally, the hold-ups are caused by traffic going from one part of the conurbation to another. Just where the cash to pay for it all is coming from is anybody's guess. Meanwhile, we have been able to identify no less than FOUR snazzy videos of the route, all displaying a fair amount of what we might say is illegal driving to boot. We wonder if in any way, such profusion of media presentation is a portent the final cost!
Later in the year, on Sunday 5th June, the famous LNER A3 Class Pacific, "Flying Scotsman" will arrive with a charter from Paddington to Pwllheli as part of a 4 day tour. We hope that Network Rail will actually take the trouble to clean the Class 97 which will be used for the onward journey over the Cambrian.
Flying Scotsman in an earlier guise. The engine is scheduled to visit Shrewsbury on 5th June Photo;- Phil Sangwell/Wikimedia Commons