Cramped Carriages and Cancelled Services Deter Rail Travel in Monmouthshire, Say Councillors
CRAMPED carriages and cancelled services are turning people off from rail travel in Monmouthshire, according to local councillors.
Plans have been unveiled to potentially increase services between Cardiff Central and Severn Tunnel Junction, at Rogiet near Caldicot, in line with proposals for five new stations in between them.
As part of the consultation on the proposed stations at Cardiff East (Newport Road), Newport West, Somerton, Llanwern, and Magor and Undy Transport for Wales has said it will provide at least two trains an hour in each direction.
They would serve the new stations but depending on the business case it is developing, and timetable capacity, it has said it would like to have three or four trains an hour in addition to existing GWR long-distance trains serving Cardiff and Bristol.
It has proposed three options with the first that trains run every hour to and from Cardiff to Cheltenham Spa and another to and from the capital and Bristol Temple Meads.
The other options are one an hour to and from Cardiff and Cheltenham Spa and two trains per hour to and from Temple Meads with the third option being two trains per hour to and from both English cities.
At a Monmouthshire County Council scrutiny meeting its transport passenger planning manager Christian Schmidt said he doesn’t expect two trains an hour to be an imminent improvement on the South Wales Mainline.
He said: “Two trains an hour I would expect it to be a couple of years before it comes in but obviously once it does come in it will be the biggest improvement for public transport in south Monmouthshire.”
The officer said improving the frequency of rail journeys would lead to other public transport improvements including to bus services as he said it is currently a “bit difficult” to get buses operating in tandem with services that are only once an hour.
Councillors said they would welcome more train services but warned cancellations mean people are losing faith in the railways.
Caldicot West End Labour councillor Jill Bond said train companies don’t have enough rolling stock to meet demand and said: “Talking about people from Caldicot not using trains, we can’t because there’s only two carriages normally.”
Chepstow Bulwark and Thornwell Labour councillor Armand Watts said trains that are intended to stop at Chepstow will often miss it out if there are problems on the network.
He said: “When I have tried to use the train back and forth to Newport you can get there but you can’t get back. Often there is a technical problem at Severn Tunnel Junction and a Gloucester train just misses Chepstow. If people know that’s consistent behaviour then it disincentives people from using the service.”
Mr Schmidt said the same thing had happened to him recently when he couldn’t get the train at Chepstow and said the council does regularly raise it with operators in response to complaints from the public.
He said as Chepstow has “such a bad service” it shouldn’t be the “first to be cut” in such circumstances due to the lack of trains and said if the trains were more frequent such cancellations would be more manageable for passengers.
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