The train between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth is ‘no better than a cattle truck’ according to Ceredigion MP Ben Lake as he grilled the head of Transport for Wales.

TfW chief executive James Price was answering questions in front of a Welsh Affairs Committee in Westminster last week, where he announced that big changes were coming to train timetables in Wales.

Mr Price said that running old timetables “just isn’t working” with people working from home and commuting at weekends.

Ceredigion MP Ben Lake asked when the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line will be getting new trains and when the promised hourly service will begin.

Mr Lake said: “I have a few concerns about that specific service (Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury) – the fact that there has been a commitment of introducing an hourly service.

“That is all well and good to make a commitment. I think at the moment many of my constituents would just appreciate” to which Mr Price interjected ‘to operate properly?’ to which Mr Lake agreed.

Chief Exec of TfW James Price was quizzed on when mid Wales would get better trains and an hourly service

Mr Lake added: “Are there particular issues and pieces of work being done to improve the reliability of the service and also the capacity.

“A common complaint I receive and I’ve experienced it myself, especially when changing at Shrewsbury. People are then having to be loaded on… it’s no better than a cattle truck from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth. We’ve heard a lot about promises of new rolling stock that don’t appear to have materialised on the mid Wales section.”

Mr Price responded: “The new rolling stock that was promised is still happening.

“Eventually, all of the network will have (new) rolling stock.”

Mr Lake pressed for a timeline for an hourly service and high capacity train to and from Aberystwyth, which was due to be introduced this year when announced in 2018, but Mr Price could not give an answer, but said in general ‘things will improve quite quickly’ and said capacity will be significantly improved by the end of the year.

Ben Lake Welsh Affairs
Ceredigion MP Ben Lake asking questions at the Welsh Affairs Committee on Wednesday (Parliament TV)

North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd was invited to the committee, where he said of the nine rail journeys he had taken recently, six had been cancelled or severely delayed, adding: “If you (Transport for Wales) were a health board, you would be in special measures.”

Other concerns raised during the committee were the rising cost of the south Wales Metro project which has ballooned to £1 billion.

Speaking reviewing timetables, Mr Price said: “Whilst we go through the summer, what we are going to do is review all of our timetables in the light of Covid. What we’ve seen is a massive change in travel pattern as a consequence of Covid. Running a timetable that was designed probably 10-years ago when no-one thought working from home was going to be a thing, when no-one thought working from home was going to be a thing, when no-one thought a big commute at the weekend is going to be a thing, just isn’t working. We’ve seen our pinch points completely moved. So we’re reviewing all of that.”