Rail campaigners throughout Central Wales are celebrating after being told the campaign for an hourly train service has succeeded in bringing about substantial improvements on the line.
A major campaign started in October of distributing and collecting survey forms brought 6,700 responses throughout the region - far more than was envisaged - and has convinced the Transport Minister to provide the funding needed.
Students, like some of those pictured here with Elin Jones AM and myself after hearing about the announcement, are key users of the service to Aberystwyth.
The Welsh Government's press release reads as follows:
"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 is announcing today (Tuesday, 8 April).
"Four additional return services will operate between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, Mondays - Saturdays, 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.
"On the Heart of Wales line, there will be extra journeys between Llandovery and Gowerton/Swansea and between Llandrindod and Shrewsbury/Crewe offering good morning commuting opportunities on Mondays – Fridays. Other return services will become more conveniently timed and the Heart of Wales Line Forum gets funding to explore the possibility of further improvements to the line.
"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.
"The additional services on both railways are designated for a three year trial under Section 36 of the Railways Act 2005 “experimental services” designation. The services will be reviewed after the first year and annually.
"The trial will provide 4 additional return services, in each direction, between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury Mondays - Saturdays, including hourly peak services for morning and afternoon, plus two new return Sunday services, and an improvement to evening services on the Cambrian Coast between Barmouth and Pwllheli.
Heart of Wales Line
"The trial will provide additional morning journeys Mondays - Fridays between Carmarthen and Llandovery, returning to Swansea for an arrival at 8.16, and from Shrewsbury to Llandrindod returning to Shrewsbury with a 7.58 arrival and continuing to Crewe arriving at 8.50. These services are additional to the current four return journeys along the line and provide improved commuting opportunities, and later services will become more conveniently timed with some journeys being extended to start from/terminate at Crewe.
The lead time for the recruitment and training of staff means that the additional services will commence at the earliest possible timetable change date in May 2015. "
The announcement doesn't give the full hourly service campaigned for but does provide substantial improvements at peak times and will give a solid base from which to campaign for further improvements when the franchise on the line is renewed 2018.