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Train bosses told to get a grip of ‘shambles’ before crucial playoff match

24 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Wales fans in the stands. Picture by Martin Rickett / PA Wire

Stephen Price

An MS has demanded train bosses get a grip of the “shambles” endured by Wales’ football supporters.

Llŷr Gruffydd, who represents North Wales in the Senedd, has called on Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government to make sure they resolve the issue ahead of the crucial playoff semi-final against Finland in Cardiff on 21 March.

A lack of trains and poor services, especially to and from North Wales, have marred international football matches in Cardiff – most recently the 1-1 draw with Turkey, which saw Wales narrowly miss out on automatic qualification to Euro 2024.

Transport for Wales (TfW) bosses have apologised for the issues, saying that there was a shortage of carriages across the network. There was also an admission that they have traditionally focused more on rugby.

Over-packed trains

Llŷr Gruffydd MS, of Plaid Cymru, said: “The experience of football supporters who travel to watch Wales play shouldn’t be marred because the right trains aren’t travelling at the right times. Unfortunately that has been the experience of many who have travelled to watch Wales recently – especially those travelling from North Wales. This simply isn’t good enough.”

Mr Gruffydd said: “Fans who travelled from North Wales to watch Wales play Turkey on November 21 were met with yet another shambles. We were promised six trains from north to south Wales with at least three carriages each, but TfW ended up with insufficient carriages leaving travellers in over-packed trains or even stranded on the platform.”

He added: “After the game they were expected to get to Cardiff Central for 22:05 to catch the train home when they wouldn’t be even leaving the stadium until around 21:45. Frankly, it’s ridiculous.”

Total failure

According to Mr Gruffydd, this isn’t a one off and he is repeatedly told that there are issues almost every time there’s an international football match in Cardiff.

He said: “It’s clear that there is a total failure when it comes to making appropriate arrangements for major events, particularly when people and supporters from the north want to come down to Cardiff to see football games.

The issue of train capacity during matches has been raised by Mr Gruffydd regularly with Welsh Government ministers and the First Minister who have assured him that they would work with Transport for Wales to make sure it is tackled.

He said: “Then when a big game comes around nothing has changed. The Welsh Government and Transport for Wales need to get this sorted for the playoff semi-final against Finland in Cardiff on 21 March. It will be a litmus test on whether services really are improving.”

He concluded: “Though I welcome the apology from Transport for Wales about the poor level of service endured by Wales supporters recently, it won’t mean anything unless they get to grips with these long-standing issues.”

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