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Cross-border passengers face axed and misaligned train connections

04 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Class 170 between Chepstow and Gloucester. Image: Transport for Wales

Twm Owen Local Democracy Reporter

Passengers on cross border rail services between south Wales and Bristol are facing a number of axed services, with misaligned connecting services leaving many waiting unnecessarily long durations between their next train.

A timetables overhaul came in on Sunday which has removed an evening train from Cardiff to Cheltenham that calls at Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction, Caldicot and Chepstow and on to Lydney and Gloucester. 

There is also a warning the new timetables are at odds with trains arriving at Severn Tunnel Junction, from Bristol, meaning passengers will face nearly an hour’s wait for connecting trains to Caldicot, Chepstow and Lydney.

Missed connections

Rail campaigner Phil Inskip, from Porskewett, said: “The Cross Country trains just miss the connections, at Severn Tunnel Junction, by about one minute so you end up with a 59 minute wait for your onward journey. You could hardly have made it worse if you tried.” 

The timetable introduced on Sunday has seen new services, from Cardiff, stopping at Newport, Severn Tunnel, Caldicot and Chepstow and onwards at 11.08am, 2.08pm and 7.10pm meaning there are now two trains an hour from 6am until 7pm. 

However the 8.09pm Transport for Wales train from Cardiff has been axed forcing anyone wanting travel to the Monmouthshire stations to wait until 9.09pm for the next train. 

A provisional timetable for December 2024 has shown that 9.09pm service, will also be removed, but Cross Country trains leaving Cardiff at 8.55pm and 9.45pm will call at all stops on the line, rather than travelling straight through from Newport to Gloucester as at present. 

However Mr Inskip, who has been involved in local rail campaign groups more than 20 years ago, said the 8.55pm service, which departs Cardiff ten minutes earlier than the current train, will be of no use to passengers returning from Bristol and wanting to change at Severn Tunnel to get back to Caldicot and Chepstow. 

“If you are coming from Bristol you arrive one minute after the Cross Country train has left. 

“For those coming back from Bristol it doesn’t help because the timetables are just not compatible. It would require a change either having the GWR train, from Bristol, running five minutes earlier of the Cross Country, from Cardiff, five minutes later.”

Criticisms

Mr Inskip said official figures show demand from Caldicot and Chepstow is greatest for trains travelling to and from Bristol. 

He also criticised the removal of the 8.09pm train, from Cardiff, in the new timetable and that from December there could be a four hour period, from 7.10pm to 11.34, without any Transport for Wales Trains running from Cardiff towards Gloucestershire.

Under the new timetable the last train to Gloucester and which calls at all stops from Cardiff leaves the capital at 11.12pm but the provisional December timetable has proposed pushing that departure time back to 11.34pm. 

Mr Inskip said the “good thing” about the December timetable is all services, other than the last train, will be extended to Cheltenham making connections to Birmingham and northwards easier. 

Transport for Wales said it has introduced an additional 12 services a day on the Cardiff to Cheltenham route, from May, and new Class 197s trains on the line. 

A spokesman said: “We’ve also recently asked stakeholders for feedback on our proposed future timetables and part of this included the proposed draft timetables for December 2024. 

“We are now working through the hundreds of feedback forms and correspondence received and in the summer will be confirming the proposed timetables for December 2024.” 


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hdavies15
hdavies15
11 days ago

Are trains services, especially those that rely on connections, designed by very small kids ? In fact small kids could probably do a much better job.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

The ‘slim’ controller in Porthmadog could do a much better job…

Howie
Howie
11 days ago

With all of the new trains running will the Senedd now rethink the rules on some MS’s getting overnight allowances.

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