Hourly train services delayed again

MP MARK Williams has expressed his frustrations at further delays to the long-promised hourly rail services for the Cambrian Line, serving Aberystwyth.

On the morning of the 17th October, the Welsh Affairs Select Committee held an evidence session for their inquiry into Cross Border Road and Rail Connectivity. Williams questioned senior Transport ministers, asking for assurances that Welsh interests were being represented to the Department, especially concerning capacity on the Aberystwyth to London and Aberystwyth to Birmingham lines. Despite necessary improvements to the signalling work, they announced that the long-awaited hourly service is not tenable at this moment in time.

The £13m planned expansion to the service was first announced in 2007, including building loops and improving signalling to allow trains to pass without delays. Network Rail have begun the improvements, yet announced that the hourly service will not be a viable option until the improvements have been completed. They have estimated that the service should begin in 2014-15, subject to funding. A Network Rail spokesman said that the delay has been caused by the experimental ERTMS (European signalling system) malfunctioning and causing difficulties.

As the first railway in Britain to use the technology, the Cambrian Line has encountered various issues that have affected the signalling along the whole route. However, they also revealed that the main focus for Network Rail is now focusing on installing the equipment and getting it working efficiently.

Williams commented: “The prospect of a delay up another 3 years for an hourly service from Aberystwyth is frustrating. I appreciate that there currently is not the physical capacity on the line, but residents of Mid Wales have been promised an hourly service for years, and the demand is certainly there. I hope the Welsh Assembly can secure funding to ensure this project gets underway as soon as is possible.”