Mid Wales

New services for Cambrian and Heart of Wales lines

Arriva Trains Wales carriage Image copyright PA
Image caption An hourly peak-time service between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth will start in 2015

New peak hourly trains between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury will be among extra services to be funded by the Welsh government on the Cambrian and Heart of Wales rail lines.

Transport Minister Edwina Hart has announced the new services will create 20 new train crew and depot jobs.

The changes, which will be on an initial three-year trial basis, will come into place from May 2015.

Rail users welcomed the move, saying both lines provide "vital services".

On the Cambrian line, four new return services will operate between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury from Monday to Saturday, with hourly services for peak morning and afternoon times.

There will also be two new return Sunday services and an improvement to evening services on the Cambrian coast between Barmouth and Pwllheli.

'Popular lines'

On the Heart of Wales line there will be extra journeys between Llandovery, Gowerton and Swansea, and between Llandrindod, Shrewsbury and Crewe from Monday to Friday.

Other return services will become more conveniently timed, and the Heart of Wales Line Forum will get £150,000 to explore the possibility of further improvements to the line.

Announcing the new services, Mrs Hart said: "I am very pleased that we have been able to secure the extra train services on these two popular lines.

"I recently commissioned a survey which clearly demonstrated the benefits to commuters, local businesses and university students of an hourly service on the Cambrian line."

The Cambrian Rail Implementation Group was formed by Mrs Hart to look into new services in mid Wales last November.

It included representatives of Network Rail, Arriva Trains Wales and Aberystwyth University.

'Vital service'

It followed a report by The Shrewsbury Aberystwyth Railway Liaison Committee which said hourly services could boost employment and tourism.

Its report included 6,570 responses from residents, students and businesses in mid Wales, and also called for more trains on the coast line in the summer months.

The Welsh government announcement was welcomed by Mansel Williams, chair of the Shrewsbury Aberystwyth Railway Liaison Committee and Heart of Wales Line Forum.

He said: "Both the Cambrian and Heart of Wales lines provide a vital service for residents, commuters, tourists and students in the area.

"We received a very strong response to our survey about services on the Cambrian main and the coast railway lines, which backed up the support there has been locally for an hourly service, particularly in the commuting peaks.

"The Heart of Wales Line survey also highlighted the impracticality of commuting with the current timetable, particularly southwards into Swansea."

Hopes for an hourly service along the Cambrian line received a boost in February when Powys planners gave the go-ahead to close five crossings on the network between Carno and Talerddig.

The Network Rail project will also include replacing the crossings with two road bridges over the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line.

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