‘Massive boost for Ceredigion’ as hourly train service confirmed

AN HOURLY train service from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury is going to be introduced.

The announcement, described by the University in a press statement as being “received with delight”, follows the campaigning many local residents in Aberystwyth, along the train line and students have undertaken for the more frequent service.

Train StationThe future timetable from Aberystwyth train station will involve four extra services a day from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury on Monday – Saturday at peak morning and afternoon times, as well as two new return services on a Sunday. The transport improvements will expand outside trains; branching out to a shuttle service from Aberystwyth to Borth and Machynlleth at 20:30 and 22:30.

However, the Cambrian line is not the only line that will benefit from the increased hourly service. According to the report released by Assembly Member Elin Jones, improvements will be made on the Machynlleth-Pwllheli coastal service, which becomes a full two-hourly service, and an additional daily journey on the Heart of Wales line between Shrewsbury and Swansea.

Big benefits

These improvements will benefit both students and local residents. Despite the fact that  passengers still have to travel to Shrewsbury to reach the South of Wales by train, the increased hourly service will provide more flexibility for future commuters and of course provide more choice.

Elin Jones AM, who has campaigned for an improved connectivity to Ceredigion, expressed her joy on hearing the news:

“This announcement is a massive boost for Ceredigion, and especially for the Aberystwyth area. This has been a long campaign, in which so many have played a part. The huge response to the consultation last autumn contributed to us finally getting what this area deserves – a frequent train service with better connections.

“The news will be a bonus for commuters, and for tourist businesses in this area. It is also great news for Aberystwyth University and its students.”

trainAberystwyth University’s Vice Chancellor Professor April McMahon also welcomed the news with great delight, saying:

“This is excellent news for everyone concerned with Aberystwyth and the surrounding area. The line from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury provides a vital transport link for the many thousands of students from all parts of the UK and particularly the English Midlands, who chose to study at Aberystwyth University.

“Aberystwyth University is an international institution attracting students from more than 90 countries and is regularly visited by leading academics from all corners of the world. A frequent and reliable train service is essential for the University as it strives to build on its success in an increasingly competitive world.”

Professor McMahon also congratulated the Welsh government on their continued efforts in supporting Cambrian line for students and local residences.

The decision

However, the decision made by the Welsh government was not an easy one for them to accept.

The campaign to increase the service to an hourly one commenced with the Shrewsbury-Aberystwyth Liaison Committee (SALC) running a survey on the current train service to Aberystwyth back in October and November. The committee then produced a report of the findings, passing this on to the Transport Minister. Having pushed the survey at the union, they then wrote a statement to the Minister on the need for improvements to the current train service, highlighting the need for a more frequent service for students to be able to meet their lectures, commute, trip commitments and looking at the wider effects on the community.

trainnnnThis allowed the SALC to propose the improvement plans to the advisory group of the Transport Ministers and key stakeholders namely the tourism board of Mid Wales and the University. The improvements looked into costs being peak time services initially, the proposed timetable drawn up by Arriva Trains Wales and a time scale for delivery.

This was collated into a report by the Cambrian Line Implementation Group and presented to the Minister in February.

Students’ Union Welfare Officer Laura Dickens expressed her excitement, saying “I’m absolutely thrilled that the Minister has chosen to increase peak services. This is an incredible win for not just students but everyone who uses the line: businesses, tourism, open days and brings us more up to date with the rest of the UK. It’s been an honour and a privilege to work with these men and deliver this change.” In addition, Dickens said “it really shows that it doesn’t matter how small your union may be, it can deliver some overwhelming change!”

Dickens also thanked Elin Jones AM and Mark Williams MP who have continued to put pressure on this issue. She told ASM, “This is definitely my proudest moment as Welfare Officer.”

This is great news for Aberystwyth and for all the towns and villages that are on the Cambrian line. It demonstrates that Aberystwyth is an important economic and tourist location. No further developments have been released regarding the re-opening of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line, however the increased hourly service to Shrewsbury from Aberystwyth is a promising indication that transport connections will be improved.