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MP says Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury rail service is ‘no better than a cattle truck’

19 Jul 2023 3 minute read
Aberystwyth railway station. Photo by John Lucas is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, Ben Lake, has slammed the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury rail service as “no better than a cattle truck” during a questioning session with the Transport for Wales (TfW) chief executive, James Price.

The comments were made during a session of the Welsh Affairs Committee in Westminster today (19 July).

Mr Lake asked Mr Price if he was confident a plan for hourly services between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury by March 2024 could be achieved.

In response, the TfW CEO said that increased capacity on the service will happen “gradually” and that “by the end of the year” there will be “significantly improved capacity everywhere”.

He acknowledged however, that certain future plans might be delayed due to factors like train availability and Network Rail’s capabilities.

He also suggested that a review of TfW’s timetables in light of Covid would be conducted during the summer.

During the Welsh Affairs Committee session, Ben Lake MP asked:  “Specifically on the Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury line, are there particular issues and pieces of work on that line being done to improve the reliability of the service? Also the capacity is a common complaint I have received.”

“I have experienced this myself, especially when changing at Shrewsbury you might have been on another service, and people are then loaded on to what is no better than a cattle truck from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth.

“We have heard lots of promises about new rolling stock that don’t appear to have materialised on the mid Wales section of the Wales and borders franchise.”

New rolling stock

Mr Price said: “So, the new rolling stock is still happening, and there is even more rolling stock than we originally talked about. Figures on that include 67% more carriages in service after we have completed all the transformation, than today.”

Ben Lake responded: “To bring it back to Aberystwyth, when do you anticipate an improvement in the service, when can we expect the hourly service? When can we expect the higher capacity new trains?”

Price replied: “On the hourly service I want to write to you on that and will do that quickly. On how quickly things will improve, in general across Wales the answer is that things will improve quickly, and things have already improved quite significantly from 4 weeks ago, and certainly from 6 weeks ago.”

Pressed again on capacity issues on the Aberystwyth – Shrewsbury services, Mr Price said: “That will gradually happen, I will be presenting to our main board tomorrow which will show by the end of the year, we will have significantly improved capacity everywhere.”


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Bob McIntyre
Bob McIntyre
8 months ago

Mr Lake (and Mr Price, for that matter) has no idea what a cattle truck is because he hasn’t been on the Heart of Wales line – in fact none of the MPs on the committee were from the constituencies between Llanelli and Shrewsbury – because we have the Class 150 and 153 units, and more modern Class 158s with air cond are used between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
8 months ago
Reply to  Bob McIntyre

Good point. The trains to Aber may have air conditioning but does it actually work? No guarantees I fear.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
8 months ago
Reply to  Bob McIntyre

The 158s are far better than the 2 car 175s on the notorious Milford Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly route.I live near Swansea and I much prefer to travel to Bristol Parkway to get the Cross Country service to Manchester Piccadilly.

Sue Davies
Sue Davies
8 months ago

I have some sympathy for TfW, given that they have very positive plans. Nevertheless, it’s very disingenuous of Mr Price to reference 67% capacity increases in this context and he ignores some serious deficiencies in their plans for this part of the network. Aberystwyth will get new trains, but these will have a LOWER capacity: each two-car train will have 116 seats and a single toilet, compared with 138 seats and two toilets in the current ones. If TfW were planning to double up and run four-carriage trains to Aberystwyth instead of two, this would work fine – but I… Read more »

Sikejsudjek
Sikejsudjek
8 months ago

Heart of Wales line has far worse rolling stock dating back to British Rail. Reliability on this line is a disgrace.

Some1
Some1
8 months ago

Some of the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury services should reverse at Shrewsbury and continue to Cardiff.

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