Cambrian Railways report suggests hourly train service

THE CAMBRIAN RAILWAYS Implementation Group has published a report it commissioned on the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth railway line, one of the main improvements of which includes an hourly service between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth.

The report included the Cambrian Railway Survey, which ran between the 5th and 20th of October and gained over 6,500 responses, many of whom were students. At points throughout the report Aberystwyth University students were mentioned specifically, and of those who responded nearly 1,400 people put “Education” as their reason for travel- the second most popular of all reasons listed after “Leisure and Social”.

The report read: “Aberystwyth University has over 15,000 students (full and part time combined) many of whom use the train regularly as their only means of travelling to and from Aberystwyth.”

“Students use the train on a regular, weekly basis, not as is often perceived at the beginning and end of academic terms”, it continued.

The report also acknowledged there is an overcrowding problem “on a large number of trains, particularly between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth”. It suggested increasing the number of trains to an hourly service over the summer and winter to “meet all the need identified in the survey” and to “support economic growth and to increase the job prospects of many who live along the line and who cannot access employment in the larger towns due to poor public transport provision”.

46% of those surveyed described the current main line service as “poor” or “very poor”.

Edwina Hart AM, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport responded to discussions about the railway service in July of this year. Ms Hart wrote to the committee asking for the report to be commissioned and her comments are included in the report.

Ms Hart AM wrote: “[Although] committed to improving transport services in Mid Wales. In terms of an hourly service on the Cambrian Main Line, I am clear that the introduction of additional services would be subject to the availability of funding”.

The report also said that there was a much higher potential for tourist use of the line. Including more regular north coast services to Pwllheli, and increase potential for people using the Machynlleth – Aberystwyth coastal line for medical or commuting purposes.

The Cambrian Rail Implementation Group will now “examine the findings of the report” and report to the Minister for Transport by 2014.  The first meeting of the Implementation Group has been scheduled for December 17th of this year.

One recommendation made to the group was that the improvements be included when the new franchise is granted in 2018, so it seems unlikely that patrons of the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line will see improvements in the immediate future.