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Heart of Wales Line is ranked among worst in UK  

14 Sep 2023 4 minute read
Erwbeili Farm Crossing on the Heart of Wales line

Passengers on the Heart of Wales Line have experienced some of the worst rail performance in the UK over the last six months, with delays and cancellations reaching record levels.

An analysis of National Rail data, collated by On Time Trains, shows that across all 2,633 railway stations in the UK over the past six months, Carmarthenshire railway stations along the Heart of Wales line were named in the bottom 100 for performance.

Stations in Llandeilo and Ammanford were ranked 2,597 and 2,594 respectively, meanwhile Llandovery, which hosted the 2023 National Urdd Eisteddfod, came 2,603 out of a total 2,633 stations.

Over the past six months at Llandovery station a fifth of services were cancelled, with a further fifth running late by 10 minutes or more.

The situation was marginally better across the border in Powys, with Llanwrtyd Wells railway station ranked 2,541 out of 2,633, whilst Builth Road station – a popular stop for commuters during the Royal Welsh Show week – clocked in at 2,367 in the table.

Tourist attraction

The service has established a growing reputation over recent years as a popular tourist attraction – in particular, with many hikers taking advantage of the route’s proximity to the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, Llwybr Glyndŵr, Offa’s Dyke Path and the newly-opened Heart of Wales Line long-distance trail – which weaves between stations along the line.

The latest performance figures have however been slammed by local politicians, who have accused Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government of neglecting the line and undermining residents and the local tourism industry.

The Royal Welsh Show week in July this year saw multiple cancellations along the line, leaving many visitors to the show stranded.

Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales said: “Over recent months I have been inundated with correspondence from constituents and tourists expressing their frustrations regarding the Heart of Wales Line service.

“Many have been left stranded on rural platforms either facing significant delays or awaiting non-existent replacement buses. Others have had work commutes or holidays ruined by the recurring cancellations which have blighted the service over recent months.

“I have no doubt the service is the jewel in the crown of Wales’s railway network; however, the continued disruption is not sustainable, and I have written to the Welsh Government urging their urgent attention to this unacceptable situation.”

Transport artery

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr added: “The Heart of Wales Line is a vital transport artery, connecting rural Carmarthenshire with mid Wales and beyond. Its spectacular views and landscapes together with its many stops in pleasant market towns and villages make it a cherished facility for both residents and visitors alike.

“However, there is no denying that the service has had a turbulent time over recent weeks and months – causing all kinds of disruption to users, as well as detriment to its own reputation, and local tourism.

“It is about time Welsh Government and Transport for Wales work with urgency to review these recent failings and work to deliver a reliable, efficient service along this route.”

Cllr Handel Davies, Plaid Cymru County Councillor for Llandovery ward said: “It is extremely disappointing to learn that Llandovery’s deteriorating train service is amidst the worst in the whole UK but sadly it will come as little surprise to the local population.

“Time after time, the service has faced disruption over many months, from delays and cancellations to non-existent replacement buses. Inevitably, such failings are a cause of growing frustration for all users who are told the delays are due to ‘challenges with rolling stock alongside infrastructure failures’ and does nothing to encourage greater use of trains at a time when this should be promoted.”

In a recent response to a written question tabled by Cefin Campbell, Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS said: “I am aware of cancellations and delays on the Heart of Wales over the summer period. Transport for Wales are aware that the service passengers have received has not been as good as it should be recently, largely due to challenges with rolling stock alongside some infrastructure failures which are the responsibility of Network Rail.

“Transport for Wales are committed to delivering improved performance which will be achieved with the increasing roll out of brand-new trains across the network.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
16 days ago

Not one of the Great Little Trains of Wales then…

hdavies15
hdavies15
16 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Doesn’t figure in Waters’ vision evidently. Most likely he doesn’t know what might be in his own vision, makes it up as he goes along and it changes every day. You’d think that with roads falling out of favour that rail would be carefully maintained. Maybe it’s more a case of not wanting us moving about at all !

Rhobert Davi8s
Rhobert Davi8s
16 days ago

A disgrace. It should be a tourist destination.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
16 days ago

If this ‘Network Rail’ was any good it would realise that trains powered by diesel combustion engines are unreliable as they have found in the rest of Europe.

They must invest in the electrification of the Welsh Railways network.
This will provide Wales with a clean, efficient and reliable train service.

Rhobert Davi8s
Rhobert Davi8s
16 days ago

Better if it was modern hydrogen powered steam engines as built by France and UK.

Rob
Rob
15 days ago

Electrify the HOW line, get Bute to pay, and run the power from the new wind farms down it. Two birds, one stone.

Rhydgaled
Rhydgaled
15 days ago

For your information, Network Rail produced a Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy (TDNS) a few years ago which recommended electrification of most of their network (though not the central part of the Heart Of Wales Line, between Craven Arms and Llangennech, where hydrogen trains were recommended). Unfortunately the UK Government (who are responsible for this, since rail infrastructure (except for the parts of the south east Wales Metro north of Cardiff which are not owned by Network Rail anymore) is not devolved to the Senedd) have not committed to implementation of the the TDNS recommendations due to the large financial implications.

mike hedges
16 days ago

Can I refer people to an article earlier this year on the heart of Wales line https://nation.cymru/news/stranded-passengers-raise-concerns-about-services-on-heart-of-wales-line/

Gareth
Gareth
16 days ago

And still there are Tories here, T C Davies for exampl, who still think we do not need, or deserve our share of the HS2 money, to invest in our railways.

Nig
Nig
15 days ago

If they were a 2 car train if 1 fails it can plod on to a safe loc and not blockline,, single car units on the line ks pointless and puts people off using incl myself

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