Another week of train misery...

By Mick O'Reilly   |   Editor   |
Friday 22nd July 2022 8:24 am
@CambrianMick
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Too many passengers and too small trains have dogged the Cambrian line service this summer — and then some
Too many passengers and too small trains have dogged the Cambrian line service this summer — and then some (Cambrian News )

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LAST week, the Cambrian News highlighted an overcrowded and miserable train journey endured by passengers on a service between Birmingham and Aberystwyth. This week, this Trainspotting column is highlighting two more days of terrible train service from Transport for Wales. There were more than two, but there’s only room for two here...

Just when you thought it couldn’t get much worse, it does. TfW is the gift that keeps on giving, heaping ever more misery on passengers with each passing day.

And as always, despite our best efforts at the Cambrian News to call out TfW for its abysmal service, there is nothing but silence from this shambles of a Welsh Government agency.

Our first tale of rail misery this week goes back to Sunday, 12 July, when two trains from Aberystwyth were cancelled — leaving passengers to schlep it to Mach on the bus.

Too many passengers and too small trains have dogged the Cambrian line service this summer — and then some
Too many passengers and too small trains have dogged the Cambrian line service this summer — and then some (Cambrian News )

On the 4.06pm service from Mach there was, of course, only two carriages. Dream on if you wanted a trolley service to quench the thirst of holidaymakers from Barmouth or students from Aber. And as we have come to expect, there was no air conditioning either — just two airless overcrowded coaches.

As bad as that was, things got even worse from Shrewsbury to Birmingham. Standing room only — is there anything else on these trains? — bikes and wheelchairs fighting with suitcases. The poor staff who must work these trains are heroes. This column’s words are not aimed at them, but at the useless twits who mismanaged the bigger picture.

On this service, the staff tried to pass out free water from the rear of the small train. The Cambrian News must wonder aloud why their respective unions aren’t demanding urgent health and safety reviews for the beleaguered staff, if not the fare-paying passengers enduring this TfW-inflicted misery. TfW never fails to come up short.

Here’s what happened the next day, 11 July on the 14:06 train “service” from Birmingham International Airport to Aberystwyth.

The train did depart on time. That’s the good news — the only bit of good news.

Of course, the service was only made up of two carriages. Anything else would deserve a positive mention but, as you’ve guessed by now, TfW doesn’t do “positive” — nor does it react to the “negative” either.

These images of a crowded train were taken last week between Birmingham and Aberystwyth on a Transport for Wales train that was 1 hour and 40 minutes late after Shrewsbury
These images of a crowded train were taken last week between Birmingham and Aberystwyth on a Transport for Wales train that was 1 hour and 40 minutes late after Shrewsbury (Cambrian News )

By the time the little train reached Birmingham New Street, huge numbers clambered on with their luggage and suitcases. So, don’t feel left out: TfW treats Midlands commuters, shoppers and those many returning students to Aber with the same level of disdain as it does the rest of us minions farther west along the line. By the time the choo-choo chugged into Wellington and Telford, things went from bad to worse. A normal journey then by TfW standards...

Aha — but not so quick. Those folks at TfW know how to throw a spanner in the works, making things go from worse to worser as it were. And yes, we’re sure the worst is yet to come from TfW...

Come Shrewsbury, everyone was ordered to disembark and head over to Platform 3 — with a couple of down and up flights of stairs thrown in for good measure. The reward for that lung-busting quick change was a four-carriage train with Aber passengers told to board the front two carriages; Barmouth and Pwllheli-bound travellers to board the rear two carriages.

And yes, true to TfW form, the train left Shrewsbury late.

But things got really interesting near Caersws — the train slowed up and then stopped completely. The driver announced no less than four problems — an overheated engine, some buckled rail, overheated rails, and a signal failure — all good enough for a 20-minute delay.

The train eventually resumed its journey.

All good? Nope, not on your nelly.

After 10 minutes, the driver announced that all passengers in the front two carriages — those for Aberystwyth — should move to rear two carriages ... and passengers for Pwllheli should move to the front two.

Farcical scenes as everyone in the crowded, moving carriages tried to swap with all their luggage as the train rushed downhill towards Machynlleth.

There is no word on whether this TfW shuffle is to be included in the next Olympics — and we’re not holding our breath for the TfW press release either...

At Mach, the Pwllheli front two carriages trundled away while the Aber-bound rabble waited.

And waited. And waited some more. One of those nice TfW local staffers came on board to suggest passengers might like to stretch their legs as the train would not depart for at least 20 more minutes. The Mach depot staff are trumps.

Rest assured, dear readers, the train did eventually make it Aberystwyth. It arrived at 18:40 – 90 minutes late for a journey scheduled to take 110 minutes in total.

And rest assured too, the chaos continued as more hoards tried to board the little two carriages back to Shrewsbury…

And of course, TfW would love to hear your experiences... but just tell them to me first.

Shaming these clowns seems to be the only way now we’ll get things fixed. Your elected public representatives along this mess of a mid Wales and Cambrian rail line seem unable — or unwilling — to help.

Travel safe!

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