Heart of Wales Line. Campaign for improved service

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swcovas

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I would like to draw forum memebers' attention to the STILL ONGOING campaign for an improved service on the Heart of Wales line. Despite a reasonably positive cost benefit study 2 years ago the line continues to soldier on with a timetable which seems to serve no one satisfactorily.

The line has to be operated with the minimum number of units to provide 4 trains each way resulting in the first trains in each direction running as virtually empty stock for much of their journies. The first train arrives in Swansea just after 9am.....useless for commuter traffic and far too early for leisure traffic!! The first Salop bound train leaves Swansea at 0435! And there are more unsatisfactory aspects to the timetable. Have a look if you're not familiar.

Anyway, there is yet another project underway to campaign for the fifth train which is at the stage of requiring stakeholder feedback. I would like to encourage as many of you as possible to respond......the line needs all the help it can get!! Unfortunately getting info on what is happening on the line is sometimes difficult as the two websites are unimaginative, uninspiring and uninformative......Fishguard trains website have managed to create so much more in just campaigning on behalf of one station!!!

Have a click on to http://www.heart-of-wales.co.uk/news.htm#support for a bit more information. If you want to read the WELTAG Cost/Benefit analysis of two years ago it's at: http://www.heart-of-wales.co.uk/Howl_Weltag_final_reportfv2.pdf
 
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NSEFAN

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Not wishing to burst your bubble, but where is the rolling stock going to come from to allow a more frequent service to operate? I'm not familiar with the setup for south wales, but I'd be suprised if there were any units currently spare, especially now Fishguard gets a better service.

If this is the case, then the electrification of the Cardiff Valley lines (due around 2020, IIRC?) might need to happen first, so that some units (ideally class 150s) can be freed up for the Heart of Wales line.

I'm all for getting a better service on rural lines, but sadly we can't just buy single DMUs. (Unless you want a Class 139 Parry-people mover to be used!)
 

swcovas

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Not wishing to burst your bubble, but where is the rolling stock going to come from to allow a more frequent service to operate? I'm not familiar with the setup for south wales, but I'd be suprised if there were any units currently spare, especially now Fishguard gets a better service.

If this is the case, then the electrification of the Cardiff Valley lines (due around 2020, IIRC?) might need to happen first, so that some units (ideally class 150s) can be freed up for the Heart of Wales line.

I'm all for getting a better service on rural lines, but sadly we can't just buy single DMUs. (Unless you want a Class 139 Parry-people mover to be used!)
I can't answer that one but I do feel very strongly that unless we make the noises we'll never see an improvement in services. There's no point in taking the "what's the point of campaigning, there's no stock available" type of attitude. There WAS stock available to run an extra service last week during the Royal Welsh Show. Two units which sat at Llandrindod between 0945 and 1830!!
 

anthony263

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Personally I Have to agree with NSEFAN on this ATW simply dont have many spare units available at the moment.

Hopefully once electrification of the Cardiff Valley lines and SWML to Swansea are completed there should be a good number of class 150's & class 153's available.

I do agree however the heart of wales line deserves a far better service with trains extended beyond Shrewsbury to Crewe so a full 2 hourly service like the Pembroke Dock branch gets would be ideal.
 

NSEFAN

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swcovas said:
I can't answer that one but I do feel very strongly that unless we make the noises we'll never see an improvement in services. There's no point in taking the "what's the point of campaigning, there's no stock available" type of attitude. There WAS stock available to run an extra service last week during the Royal Welsh Show. Two units which sat at Llandrindod between 0945 and 1830!!
I would expect that those units had come from shortening other services, so users on another line would have potentially lost out. Like I said, I fully support improving the service but I just don't think it will be possible to maintain an increased frequency without one of the following:

-Removing a DMU from a diagram elsewhere
-Sourcing a single DMU from another TOC (unlikely as most TOCs with DMUs are also asking for more stock!)
-A major cascade of stock (such as the valley lines which I mentioned before)

Making noises is only the start. Someone has to address these issues before the service can be improved.
 

6Gman

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If there was a will to provide the exrtra services I don't think providing the extra unit(s) would be the main issue. That, I fear, would be the contractual negotiations as ATW tried to get as much money as possible out of somebody (the WAG?)!
 

merlodlliw

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I can't answer that one but I do feel very strongly that unless we make the noises we'll never see an improvement in services. There's no point in taking the "what's the point of campaigning, there's no stock available" type of attitude. There WAS stock available to run an extra service last week during the Royal Welsh Show. Two units which sat at Llandrindod between 0945 and 1830!!
Fully agree, if you don't campaign no one listens, The Royal Welsh DMUs I understand were part subsidised by RWS & Powys CC via WG, it was not ATW being kind hearted.

Currently ATW are looking at chopping services on lines that they say are over franchise commitments, Chester/Wrexham/Salop are the latest example of BH cuts since May. Plus the latest Timetable fiasco.

Bob
 

PHILIPE

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ATW wont do anything over and above their franchise. New Years Day on the Cardifff Valleys is a typical example. All other ATW routes have a service even Ebbw Vale which runs just over the other side of the hill from the Rhymney line. This is historical and goes back to the late 80s when New Years Day travel was not in such high demand as now and the services were withdrawn. On privatisation the Cardiff Valleys became a the Cardiff Valley TOC and subsequently the non requirement was not carried forward to ATW. Despite complaints every year from many areas, ATW will not budge. This is to highlight the fact ATW will not do anything over and above their franchise commitments. The DFT are not going to take any initiative to remedy so the only solution for an increased service on the HOW is for somebody to come forward and pay for it.
 

tbtc

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Firstly, forget about any cascade of DMUs after the Valley Line electrification. The Pacers will be withdrawn later this decade and the 150s on Valley Line services will replace other Pacers. I don't see any trains being "spare" for the HOWL.

Main en-route originating stations are Llandrindod and Knighton, which are the origins for 13% and 10% of in-scope journeys respectively
Llandridnod has approx 47,000 passengers a year, so 23,500 departing passengers a year (since the stats count each "entry" and "exit" separately.

23,500 = roughly 65 passengers a day at the busiest intermediate HOWL station (spread over eight departures a day).

The two next busiest stations (Llandovery and Knighton) have a combined passenger volume roughly equal to Llandridnod. There are plenty of stations with just a couple of thousand passengers a year (a couple of passengers a day?).

Just to put the figures into perspective.

The route is notable for the large proportion of WAG Concessionary journeys made (16% of total journeys but 25% of journeys outside the summer months when they are barred, on account of crowding)
This doesn't really help the business case, when up to a quarter of the passengers are getting a free ride.

Option 1: one additional pair of trains: the northbound service departs from Swansea at 0707, calling at Llandrindod Wells at 0920 and arrives at Shrewsbury at 1105. The southbound service departs from Shrewsbury at 1609, calling at Llandrindod Wells at 1740 and arrives at Swansea at 2025. The other services receive some minor timing alterations to accommodate the additional trains but the structure of the timetable remains unchanged.
At the moment the service takes roughly four hours from Swansea to Shrewsbury (approximately an hour longer than the hourly service via Cardiff/ Newport), so eight hours for a round trip (plus recoverty time/ staff breaks) - one unit can do two round trips in a full day.

Adding in a fifth service sounds great, but it's going to take one unit all day to provide a marginal increase of one service.

But one extra unit could instead provide a clockface bi-hourly service between Knigton and Shrewsbury or something similar at the Swansea end of the route.

Option 3 was discounted as it did not meet the client requirements for through services between Swansea and Shrewsbury
There's never going to be much "end to end" traffic on the route (especially with the faster hourly service via Cardiff, with better trains), so why not focus more on the "local" aspect of the line?

Having services starting/ending at Llandrindod looks appealing, as it saves the first train of the day having come all the way from Swansea/Shrewsbury. However it would mean a tiny outstation which would be expensive (with little room to cope with unit/staff unavailability).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
ATW will not do anything over and above their franchise commitments
They will if there's any money in it for them.

But the Wales & Borders franchise requires the highest passenger subsidy in the UK (per mile) so most of the increases suggested on here are going to be unprofitable.
 

swcovas

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ATW wont do anything over and above their franchise. New Years Day on the Cardifff Valleys is a typical example. All other ATW routes have a service even Ebbw Vale which runs just over the other side of the hill from the Rhymney line. This is historical and goes back to the late 80s when New Years Day travel was not in such high demand as now and the services were withdrawn. On privatisation the Cardiff Valleys became a the Cardiff Valley TOC and subsequently the non requirement was not carried forward to ATW. Despite complaints every year from many areas, ATW will not budge. This is to highlight the fact ATW will not do anything over and above their franchise commitments. The DFT are not going to take any initiative to remedy so the only solution for an increased service on the HOW is for somebody to come forward and pay for it.

It goes without saying that the initiative for any extra services on the HOWL is not going to come from ATW but from the the WAG who have frequently made noises about service improvement on the line. The HOWL timetable has been unchanged since privatisation and the franchise requirement was 4 trains a day with provisos such as, if I remember rightly, a train to arrive in Salop before 9am. This, of course, results in the ridiculous 0430 departure from Swansea! However, we now have a sunday service which was WAG inspired and not a franchise requirement.

I also seem to remember that when extra trains to Fishguard were first proposed there was also the usual protestations of "where's the stock going to come from?"
 

tbtc

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It goes without saying that the initiative for any extra services on the HOWL is not going to come from ATW but from the the WAG who have frequently made noises about service improvement on the line. The HOWL timetable has been unchanged since privatisation and the franchise requirement was 4 trains a day with provisos such as, if I remember rightly, a train to arrive in Salop before 9am. This, of course, results in the ridiculous 0430 departure from Swansea!
It may be ridiculous, but (without setting up an expensive depot half way along the line with spare staff/DMUs) how else do you reach Shrewsbury before nine in the morning?

Make it later than 04:36 and you get complaints at the Shrewsbury end about it arriving too late for workers (like your complaints about the 05:19 southbound service not getting into Swansea before 09:00).
 

Gareth Marston

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It may be ridiculous, but (without setting up an expensive depot half way along the line with spare staff/DMUs) how else do you reach Shrewsbury before nine in the morning?

Make it later than 04:36 and you get complaints at the Shrewsbury end about it arriving too late for workers (like your complaints about the 05:19 southbound service not getting into Swansea before 09:00).
Whats the point in having the line if its not of any practical wider use beyond a few leisure journeys each year?

The BR Manager who cut it from 5 trains a day to 4 as a recession money saving measure in the early 90's later admitted 50% of the passenger traffic went as well.

Sacrificing the number of through all length trains by 1 and running the early morning ecs moves to points (Llandrinod Wells/Llandovery) where they can turn around in order to arrive into Swansea/Shrewsbury in the morning peak may make more sense in increasing usage though the psychological barrier of 3 trains a day between Llandovery and Llandrinod will have to be overcome. There is no bus service that straddles the Carmathenshire/Powys border the HoW being the only public transport on this axis.
 

swcovas

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It may be ridiculous, but (without setting up an expensive depot half way along the line with spare staff/DMUs) how else do you reach Shrewsbury before nine in the morning?

Make it later than 04:36 and you get complaints at the Shrewsbury end about it arriving too late for workers (like your complaints about the 05:19 southbound service not getting into Swansea before 09:00).
Yes, I agree with your points but, dismissing the franchise commitment of an arrival pre 0900 a later first arrival at say 1000/1030 would probably atract far more custom in the way of leisure/shoppers traffic to Shrewsbury. At the opposite end the first arrival at 0908 is of no great use to anyone. In pre privatisation days fisrt arrival in Swansea was at about 1015 with in late 80s an extra sat only working from Llandovery arriving at 1130 and both could be quite well loaded. And not wishing to sound naive but how costly would it be to stable overnight at Llandrindod?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Whats the point in having the line if its not of any practical wider use beyond a few leisure journeys each year?

The BR Manager who cut it from 5 trains a day to 4 as a recession money saving measure in the early 90's later admitted 50% of the passenger traffic went as well.

Sacrificing the number of through all length trains by 1 and running the early morning ecs moves to points (Llandrinod Wells/Llandovery) where they can turn around in order to arrive into Swansea/Shrewsbury in the morning peak may make more sense in increasing usage though the psychological barrier of 3 trains a day between Llandovery and Llandrinod will have to be overcome. There is no bus service that straddles the Carmathenshire/Powys border the HoW being the only public transport on this axis.

Yes, agree that some short workings could make sense but don't think reducing to 3 plus 1 short working would ever gain much support but I believe that 4 thru' plus one short could work quite well. However, the Heart of Wales line Forum and HOWLTA have always seemed to be totally opposed to any short workings!
 

tbtc

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Whats the point in having the line if its not of any practical wider use beyond a few leisure journeys each year?

The BR Manager who cut it from 5 trains a day to 4 as a recession money saving measure in the early 90's later admitted 50% of the passenger traffic went as well.

Sacrificing the number of through all length trains by 1 and running the early morning ecs moves to points (Llandrinod Wells/Llandovery) where they can turn around in order to arrive into Swansea/Shrewsbury in the morning peak may make more sense in increasing usage though the psychological barrier of 3 trains a day between Llandovery and Llandrinod will have to be overcome. There is no bus service that straddles the Carmathenshire/Powys border the HoW being the only public transport on this axis.
What's your alternative then? There's not much population between Swansea and Shrewsbury, there's a faster hourly alternative via Cardiff to deal with any long distance passengers.

Adding an extra round trip will require an extra unit even if it only makes one trip (since it'll take over eight hours after "break" time, so it's not like finding a unit with a spare couple of hours).

The reality is that we are talking about a line with low passenger numbers, other than some busy weekend summer trains. It's a line that is politically sensitive but most trains are pretty empty (with a significant number of passengers being pensioners on free passes).
 

Gareth Marston

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What's your alternative then? There's not much population between Swansea and Shrewsbury, there's a faster hourly alternative via Cardiff to deal with any long distance passengers.

Adding an extra round trip will require an extra unit even if it only makes one trip (since it'll take over eight hours after "break" time, so it's not like finding a unit with a spare couple of hours).

The reality is that we are talking about a line with low passenger numbers, other than some busy weekend summer trains. It's a line that is politically sensitive but most trains are pretty empty (with a significant number of passengers being pensioners on free passes).
I suggested something that might increase usage using same resources.
 

tbtc

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Yes, I agree with your points but, dismissing the franchise commitment of an arrival pre 0900 a later first arrival at say 1000/1030 would probably atract far more custom in the way of leisure/shoppers traffic to Shrewsbury. At the opposite end the first arrival at 0908 is of no great use to anyone. In pre privatisation days fisrt arrival in Swansea was at about 1015 with in late 80s an extra sat only working from Llandovery arriving at 1130 and both could be quite well loaded. And not wishing to sound naive but how costly would it be to stable overnight at Llandrindod?!
I don't know about the cost of stabling, but its generally seen as quite expensive (partly since you have little "spare" if staff are sick or units are faulty - compared to a bigger depot).

Go an hour later (to give an arrival into Shrewsbury and Swansea just after 10:00 for leisure passengers (since the current set up is too late for commuters but too early for shoppers) would mean departures from each end of the line at roughly 05:xx, 10:xx, 14:xx and 19:xx - which probably makes the final train of the day too late to be much use. Its a tricky balance.
 

swcovas

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Llandridnod has approx 47,000 passengers a year, so 23,500 departing passengers a year (since the stats count each "entry" and "exit" separately.

23,500 = roughly 65 passengers a day at the busiest intermediate HOWL station (spread over eight departures a day).

The two next busiest stations (Llandovery and Knighton) have a combined passenger volume roughly equal to Llandridnod. There are plenty of stations with just a couple of thousand passengers a year (a couple of passengers a day?).

Just to put the figures into perspective.


To start talking about passenger numbers (or lack of them) is the chicken and egg question. Why does Golf Street station have only a 100 passengers a year.....probably because there's only one train a day. Ditto Llandrindod. Lousy service = footfall of 47,000. Back in the late 80s receipts and so, fair to assume, footfall at Llandrindod was on a par with Tenby. Today Tenby has footfall in excess of 100,000 and a far better service than it had then. And Llandrindod?
 

tbtc

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Sacrificing the number of through all length trains by 1 and running the early morning ecs moves to points (Llandrinod Wells/Llandovery) where they can turn around in order to arrive into Swansea/Shrewsbury in the morning peak may make more sense in increasing usage though the psychological barrier of 3 trains a day between Llandovery and Llandrinod will have to be overcome
I suggested something that might increase usage using same resources.
So you'd run a fifty mile ECS (Llandrindod Wells to Shrewsbury) and a sixty mile ECS (Llandovery to Swansea) and reduce the number of through trains by a quarter?

There's certainly some plus points to it - ensuring an earlier arrival in Shrewsbury/ Swansea for the return service which should be more attractive.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
To start talking about passenger numbers (or lack of them) is the chicken and egg question. Why does Golf Street station have only a 100 passengers a year.....probably because there's only one train a day. Ditto Llandrindod. Lousy service = footfall of 47,000. Back in the late 80s receipts and so, fair to assume, footfall at Llandrindod was on a par with Tenby. Today Tenby has footfall in excess of 100,000 and a far better service than it had then. And Llandrindod?
I agree - it's hard to work out the cause/ effect.

Some stations, like Golf Street, are beyond saving as far as I'm concerned (and I say this as someone who grew up twenty miles from Golf Street).

The problem with Llandrindod is that its a very difficult place for rail to serve - a long way from places of much population - in the middle of a rural area that's not really suited to heavy rail.

Tenby is at least on the line between Swansea/ Llanelli/ Carmarthen and Pembroke, which is the kind of market that rail can compete in a lot better. Tenby is directly connected to most nearby towns by rail (bar Haverfordwest/ Milford Haven where you'd have to change trains to reach). Llandridnod is a long way from Shrewsbury or Swansea, and has no rail link to Aberystwyth/ Hereford/ Merthyr (and other Valley conurbations) that are a similar distance away, so rail is always going to struggle to meet the demands of Llandridnod.

I could suggest that its a lot easier to improve the trains from Tenby than it is to improve the Llandrindod trains (given the inflexible length of the HOWL).
 

ChiefPlanner

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It goes without saying that the initiative for any extra services on the HOWL is not going to come from ATW but from the the WAG who have frequently made noises about service improvement on the line. The HOWL timetable has been unchanged since privatisation and the franchise requirement was 4 trains a day with provisos such as, if I remember rightly, a train to arrive in Salop before 9am. This, of course, results in the ridiculous 0430 departure from Swansea! However, we now have a sunday service which was WAG inspired and not a franchise requirement.

I also seem to remember that when extra trains to Fishguard were first proposed there was also the usual protestations of "where's the stock going to come from?"
I suspect the 4xx / 5xx services are obsolescent hangovers from the days when these were effectively mail and newspaper / parcels distributors , connecting at Salop off the York - Aberystwyth and at Swansea from the Padd - Milford Haven paper and parcels working.

The initlal Sunday service , again , like the Royal Welsh was funded by the SRA through the Rail Passenger Partneship Fund. It is now 2 each way whihc gives a much better travel option.

With such a poor use of the present services , I did a rediagram (at home) of existing resources giving some better am and pm links at both ends through short workings to and from Llandovery and Llandrindod. am and pm.

It saved some mileage , reduced signalbox hours , but cost extra traincrew - when ran through Moira - it produced virtually no extra revenue (but Moira doesnt like interchanges at places like Llanelli)

One gets the impression that asking for an extra unit wold not go down well - and in any case , the availability of stock UK wise is exceedingly tight for now (without robbing someone else !)
 

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A bit of a look back in time to the recentish past, looking back to the mid 70's there were 5 trips each way Mon-Sat.
Southbound the first departure from Shrewsbury was at 03:44 arr Swansea 08:10, northbound the first one was at 05:44 from Swansea arr Shrewsbury at 09:22.
No Sunday service.

Fast forward to the mid 80's.

5 trips each way Mon-Sat.
Southbound the first departure from Shrewsbury was at 03:45 arr Swansea 07:51, northbound the first one was at 05:35 from Swansea arr Shrewsbury at 09:22.

No Sunday service.

Just FYI.
 

swcovas

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I suspect the 4xx / 5xx services are obsolescent hangovers from the days when these were effectively mail and newspaper / parcels distributors , connecting at Salop off the York - Aberystwyth and at Swansea from the Padd - Milford Haven paper and parcels working.

The initlal Sunday service , again , like the Royal Welsh was funded by the SRA through the Rail Passenger Partneship Fund. It is now 2 each way whihc gives a much better travel option.


One gets the impression that asking for an extra unit wold not go down well - and in any case , the availability of stock UK wise is exceedingly tight for now (without robbing someone else !)

No, the current early workings aren't really hangovers from Mail train days although a 0345ish dep from Salop did run until well into (I think) the late 80s. The up mail used to run 1825 ex Swansea Vic. Both first and last trains continued to carry mail for many years. The current sunday service, although year round, gives poor travel options for days out. The original summer sunday services run as the "Heart of Wales Rambler" in the 80s and funded by all sorts of bodies gave far better opportunities for getting INTO Mid Wales.

I think some Forum members are being too dismissive of what the line CAN offer and are being too dismissive of the line's potential by referring to current footfall figures. Gareth Marston has already made the point that when the service was reduced from 5 to 4 that BR later admitted that 50% of the traffic was lost as well! And I know that LLandrindod's station receipts were on a par with Tenby's back in the late 80s. It's been pointed out that potential end to end traffic is not going to be competitive with the Marches Line but an improved timetable can certainly increase passenger use for people going from the line into Swansea and Salop. At the southern end of the line journey times from the busier stations like Llandovery, Llandeilo and Ammanford to Swansea (the natural destination for a day out) beat the bus by a LONG way (even with a reversal at LLanelli) and given a bit of improvement in the tt people will use the train. And to a lesser extent Llandrindod is quite a popular visitor destination for days out. Yes, I know that it's a rural line and passenger numbers are relatively small but again quoting Gareth Marston earlier "Whats the point in having the line if its not of any practical wider use beyond a few leisure journeys each year?" If we adopt the attitude that its only a rural line then you can say the same about the Conway Vally Line and a few others and then we come down to the why bother keeping it open question.......a road which I don' think anyone here would like go down here.

I come back to the Chicken and egg question......put a lousy tt, you get fewer passengers and for the moment we shouldn't go bleating on about lack of stock etc but campaign for a better service!
 

tbtc

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I think some Forum members are being too dismissive of what the line CAN offer and are being too dismissive of the line's potential by referring to current footfall figures
Sorry, but I just think that the HOWL is the kind of route that rail cannot complete effectively on.

If Llandridnod has roughly 65 departing passengers a day* and Llandovery/ Knighton have thirty-something departing passengers a day* (on a line where a significant number of passengers are pensioners on "free" tickets) then its always going to be hard to justify an upgrade (especially when many Welsh lines have a better business case - using an extra unit to plug gaps on the Swanline service may not have the emotional appeal of enhancing the scenic HOWL but its fairer to allocate resources to where more people are going to use them).

* - I'm happy for anyone to argue the maths
 

merlodlliw

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Whats the point in having the line if its not of any practical wider use beyond a few leisure journeys each year?

The BR Manager who cut it from 5 trains a day to 4 as a recession money saving measure in the early 90's later admitted 50% of the passenger traffic went as well.

Sacrificing the number of through all length trains by 1 and running the early morning ecs moves to points (Llandrinod Wells/Llandovery) where they can turn around in order to arrive into Swansea/Shrewsbury in the morning peak may make more sense in increasing usage though the psychological barrier of 3 trains a day between Llandovery and Llandrinod will have to be overcome. There is no bus service that straddles the Carmathenshire/Powys border the HoW being the only public transport on this axis.
You are correct the HOWL is the only form of public transport linking Powys & Carmarthen, no buses whatsoever, this I presume kept it alive during Beeching.

As for the Royal Welsh Show special, RWS provide the free buses to/from Builth Rd for all trains, WG via Powys CC provide some funding to run the train, it is the largest rural event
of its kind in Europe, the others in Scotland & Nth Ireland are much smaller, England no longer as a National Rural event any more,The Royal Show went bust three years ago.
 
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mr williams

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this I presume kept it alive during Beeching.
What kept it alive during Beeching was (as Welsh Secretary George Thomas was so fond of reminding Harold Wilson) the fact that it ran through no fewer than SEVEN marginal constituencies at a time when the then Government's majority was just four!

I seem to remember a brief period in the late 1980s when there were 2 daily stub trains from Swansea-Llandovery and 1 from Llandrindod-Shrewsbury in addition to the 5 through trains. They didn't last more than a year or so, but for a short time there were seven trains each way on the southern section, five in the middle and six in the north.

Is it still possible to get onto the HOW line directly from the Swansea side or do you have to go into Llanelli and reverse?
 

swcovas

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What kept it alive during Beeching was (as Welsh Secretary George Thomas was so fond of reminding Harold Wilson) the fact that it ran through no fewer than SEVEN marginal constituencies at a time when the then Government's majority was just four!

I seem to remember a brief period in the late 1980s when there were 2 daily stub trains from Swansea-Llandovery and 1 from Llandrindod-Shrewsbury in addition to the 5 through trains. They didn't last more than a year or so, but for a short time there were seven trains each way on the southern section, five in the middle and six in the north.

Is it still possible to get onto the HOW line directly from the Swansea side or do you have to go into Llanelli and reverse?
All trains start/terminate at Swansea running via Llanelli with reversal. I'm not sure but think the short workings from Llandrindod were when the last through working from Swansea was cut back for a while. The last down terminated at Llandod and then returned to Salop.

Ironically the best tt at the southern end was just after the Glanrhyd bridge accident. Trains terminated at Llandeilo and Llandovery with bus link between. At the time there were six Llandeilo to Swansea trains but I think only five north.

After the new bridge was built for a few years there was also an SO Llandovery to Swansea working at 0900. The first up train to Salop worked as a pair seperating at LLandovery with a balanced working in the late afternoon operating in the same way. And these trains were quite well used.

Incidentally the last up from Swansea last saturday (July 28th) was packed and standing room only going up the line from Llanelli and was still loaded to about 60 when I got off at Llandeilo. About 90+ on a 153.......uncomfortable but good to see. So the line CAN be well used. And in case you're wondering, the passengers were "normals".......ie not artificially swelled by a group travelling together!
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All trains start/terminate at Swansea running via Llanelli with reversal. I'm not sure but think the short workings from Llandrindod were when the last through working from Swansea was cut back for a while. The last down terminated at Llandod and then returned to Salop.

Ironically the best tt at the southern end was just after the Glanrhyd bridge accident. Trains terminated at Llandeilo and Llandovery with bus link between. At the time there were six Llandeilo to Swansea trains but I think only five north.

After the new bridge was built for a few years there was also an SO Llandovery to Swansea working at 0900. The first up train to Salop worked as a pair seperating at LLandovery with a balanced working in the late afternoon operating in the same way. And these trains were quite well used.

Incidentally the last up from Swansea last saturday (July 28th) was packed and standing room only going up the line from Llanelli and was still loaded to about 60 when I got off at Llandeilo. About 90+ on a 153.......uncomfortable but good to see. So the line CAN be well used. And in case you're wondering, the passengers were "normals".......ie not artificially swelled by a group travelling together!
I should have added that when the short workings to Llandod operated it meant that there were only four throiugh trains a day. The last through train departed from Swansea at about 1530. The excuse given at the time was the perrenial one......shortage of units and a unit was needed to strengthen a Cardiff-Portsmouth train.
 

Gareth Marston

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Newtown Montgomeryshire
There's no practical operational reason now for not running some extra easter/summer Saturday services as the Valley lines 150's are not all needed at weekends/holidays. Though this changes later this decade!

A toe in the water to demonstrate potential?
 

swcovas

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2 Feb 2012
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North Portugal
There's no practical operational reason now for not running some extra easter/summer Saturday services as the Valley lines 150's are not all needed at weekends/holidays. Though this changes later this decade!

A toe in the water to demonstrate potential?
This was actually talked about some years ago as a way to improve services in the short term. It was mentioned in the HOWLTA newsletter but I've never heard any mention of it again. Unfortunately their website and the Forum's is very uninformative. Developements seem to be kept in the dark.
 

merlodlliw

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8 Mar 2009
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Wrexham/ Denbighshire /Flintshire triangle
What kept it alive during Beeching was (as Welsh Secretary George Thomas was so fond of reminding Harold Wilson) the fact that it ran through no fewer than SEVEN marginal constituencies at a time when the then Government's majority was just four!

I seem to remember a brief period in the late 1980s when there were 2 daily stub trains from Swansea-Llandovery and 1 from Llandrindod-Shrewsbury in addition to the 5 through trains. They didn't last more than a year or so, but for a short time there were seven trains each way on the southern section, five in the middle and six in the north.

Is it still possible to get onto the HOW line directly from the Swansea side or do you have to go into Llanelli and reverse?
Did it actually run through seven,that explains it, some of course in England
 

mr williams

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Joined
19 Sep 2010
Messages
132
Without researching it in depth I'd say its not that implausible, remembering that in the 1960s many seats were a straight 2-way fight. I know that Brecon & Radnor (which includes the stations in the Llandrindod Wells area) has changed hands many times over the years as has Carmarthen (Llandeilo & Ammanford etc).

Off the top of my head, Swansea West used to be closer than it is now, as did Gower. Shrewsbury might have been another, and possibly Ludlow (Church Stretton).

There's six possibles, and the line could easily have sneaked into another (Montgomery?).

Even though Labour won a big majority in 1966 one of the first things Transport Secretary Barbara Castle did was bring in a bill to subsidise rural lines where there was a "special local need" (cynics would say "marginal seats") and although it was too late for many (Carmarthen - Aberystwyth would have been a prime candidate), it certainly saved a number of lines in Wales, Scotland, Cornwall etc
 
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