Peak hourly rail service announced for the Cambrian Line

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.

Cambrian Railway
"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.


Pantycelyn to continue

Here's the very welcome letter received today by students campaigning for the retention of Pantycelyn as a Welsh-speaking student hall at Aberystwyth University (scroll down for English version):

Annwyl Fyfyriwr,

Heddiw bu Rebecca Davies, John Grattan a minnau yn cyfarfod â chynrychiolwyr o Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth UMCA i drafod dyfodol Pantycelyn.

Yn ystod y cyfarfod, cyflwynwyd cynnig gennym a fyddai’n golygu ein bod yn cydweithio gydag UMCA i ddatblygu cynllun busnes ar ddefnydd Neuadd Pantycelyn i’r dyfodol fel Canolfan Gymraeg a Diwylliant. Rwy’n falch iawn gallu dweud fod y cynnig hwn ei dderbyn gan UMCA.

Mae’r cynnig yn cynnwys datblygu opsiynau manwl ar gyfer parhad Pantycelyn fel llety arlwyo ar gyfer myfyrwyr sy’n siaradwyr Cymraeg ac yn ddysgwyr y Gymraeg.

Rydym yn gobeithio y bydd y Ganolfan Gymraeg a Diwylliant yn gweithredu fel canolbwynt i’n cymuned Gymraeg gyfan, gan gynnwys myfyrwyr a staff ynghyd â’r gymuned ehangach a phawb sydd â diddordeb yn y diwylliant Cymraeg a Chymreig yn gyffredinol.

Rydym yn ymrwymedig i ddenu myfyrwyr Cymraeg i Aberystwyth ac i hybu’r modd y maent yn cael mynediad at ddarpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg sy’n ehangu ynghyd ag ystod mor eang â phosib o gyfleoedd cymdeithasol a diwylliannol Cymraeg.

Nid yw’r cynnig hwn a gytunwyd heddiw yn effeithio ar ein cynlluniau ar gyfer llety cyfrwng Cymraeg ar Fferm Penglais.

O fis Medi 2014, bydd myfyrwyr sy’n siarad Cymraeg a’r rhai sy’n ei dysgu, yn medru dewis rhwng llety arlwyo ym Mhantycelyn, a llety hunan arlwyo ar Fferm Penglais.

Pob hwyl,

Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan
Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor

Dear Student,

Today, Rebecca Davies, John Grattan and I met with representatives from UMCA, the Aberystwyth Welsh-speaking Students’ Union and representatives of the University’s branch of the Coleg Cymraeg, to discuss the future of Pantycelyn.

During the meeting we tabled a proposal that would see us working with UMCA on the development of a business plan for the future use of Pantycelyn as a Welsh Language and Cultural Centre. I am very pleased to report that this proposal has been accepted by UMCA.

The proposal includes providing detailed options for the continuation of Pantycelyn as catered accommodation for students that are Welsh speakers and Welsh learners.

We hope that a Welsh Language and Cultural Centre at Pantycelyn will act as a hub for our entire Welsh-speaking community, including students, staff as well as the wider community and all those interested in Welsh culture generally.

We are committed as a university to attracting Welsh-speaking students and to promote access to the expanding Welsh medium provision, together with widest possible range of Welsh-medium social and cultural opportunities.

The agreed proposal does not affect the current plans for the new Welsh medium accommodation at Fferm Penglais.

From September 2014, Welsh speaking students and those learning Welsh will be able to choose between catered accommodation in Pantycelyn, and self-catering accommodation on Fferm Penglais.


Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan
Pro Vice-Chancellor

The campaign has seen a number of demonstrations, including this one in October, in which university offices were occupied.