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1  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Encouraging Occasional Passengers on: August 10, 2023, 08:25:01 pm
I agree about Carmarthen, they often seem to have cancellations due to not enough train crew.

Also ive noticed recently random trains seem to be removed from the timetable, not cancelled just removed as if they were never there.  The 1105 Swansea-Cardiff is an example of this. A few weeks ago i wanted to catch it but ended having to get the 1203 fast train instead.
2  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Encouraging Occasional Passengers on: August 05, 2023, 06:55:10 pm
The Royal Welsh Special train being cancelled two days out of four this year was nothing short of shocking! Given the event only runs for 4 days out of 365 train crew should have been prioritised to work these services and all others on the HOWL for these 4 days.  Even if it meant cancelling some Carmarthen-Cardiff workings (its not as if unusual for trains to be cancelled on this route!).

Im aware that only Carmarthen train crew can work the South of the HOWL line, so im wondering how its supposed to work when the Royal Special runs. Do Carmarthen train crew travel to Cardiff by taxi or on another service. Its not as if the train crew can change at Swansea like some other workings as the special goes via the district line.  Either way they should have ensured this was prioritised for the 4 days.

With the Tenby/Pembroke line being unreliable too it puts me off a day trip there. They really need to sort it out.  We said last Summer things would be better this Summer but if anything its even worse! 

The 197s coming to West Wales cant come soon enough. Seeing so many overcrowded 150s working from Milford-Manchester is really unacceptable. Its gone on since March. And wasnt great before then. Nearly 6 months of an appalling service!

ive heard the 197s will be running very soon on West Wales services to Manchester/Cardiff.  They have already started running Holyhead to Cardiff.   The 2 afternoon Swansea/Llanelli-Chester (Swanline) have been split at Cardiff in recent weeks so a 197 can operate East of Cardiff.  It was supposed to switch to 197 for the entire service with the May TT change.  Not sure what the issue is but hopefully it can be resolved very soon. Getting fed up waiting now!

3  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: April 12, 2023, 12:48:21 pm
Ive heard that Swanline and Cardiff-Holyhead will be 197s from the May TT change however whether this will be a few diagrams or all of them remains to be seen.

It looks like both the 15xx from Swansea and the 16xx from Llanelli end up going to Chester as they do now. Could this be a sign they will be 197s, or at least 1 of them will be, so the diagram/s end at the depot in Chester.  The one that comes down from Holyhead to Llanelli is no longer showing as a through working from May TT change and will start from Cardiff to Llanelli (it still goes via the district line on the down journey). Could be a sign all Swanlines will be formed of 2 diagrams again and no interworking as such with other routes.

Yes looks like the Treherbert closure will free up a few 150s. No doubt needed for some of the former 170 diagrams in the short term with only 3 staying until November when more 197s should be in place by then.
4  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: April 11, 2023, 07:27:58 pm
Around 6 weeks on and the situation is slowly improving both with the 175s and introduction of the 197s.  Although neither is happening fast enough really as there is still an abundance of 2 carriage 150s or 153s on long distance routes.  I had the misfortune of having to stand on a 150 the other day for quite a bit of time. There were many people travelling with large suitcases and a 150 is not ideal for large items of luggage with no luggage racks and many suitcases far too large for the overhead racks. A few of the tip up seats were blocked by suitcases and unfortunately there was nowhere they could really be moved to. So not ideal at all.  One thing 150 do have in favour over a 175 is if you have to stand on a train you have a bit more space to move around on a 150 than a 175 with the doors in the middle.  But a quick look at TFW social media pages on Twitter etc show it wasn't a great weekend on the Marches with lots of complaints and photos of overcrowded Sprinters.  The North Wales coast has done a bit better with some 197s doubled up to form 4 cars. Not seen many complaints from there so fingers crossed things are improving slowly. 

The 197 introduction seems frustratingly slow!  However it is getting better with a few 4 cars now plus it looks like Conwy Valley and Liverpool have their services back  now (as 197s).  One even made it to the Crewe-Chester shuttle today but only for 1 service, it was switched to a 175 after that (a real waste of resources when many 150s/153s are on long distance, unless there was a good reason for it, like it couldn't venture far from Chester depot!)   I wonder when we can realistically see the 197s on services out of Cardiff. I hope something starts to happen when the new timetable happens next month.

Regarding the 170s, more have left TFW for EMR» (East Midlands Railway, also known as EMT» (East Midlands Trains - about) (East Midlands Trains) - about). But apparently 3 are being kept until November which is a sensible move given the shortage at the moment of suitable trains.  Even if all 175s are back by May, it will take the pressure off a bit with those few extra 170s.
5  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: March 18, 2023, 08:59:40 pm
I think the problem is Chester depot cant cope with maintaining the 197s and 175s. It was inevitable there would be a transition phase between the 2 fleets but unfortunately the decision to concentrate the 197s in the North initially has resulted in the Marches being the big losers, at least until enough Cardiff and Carmarthen can be trained on 197s.

Having now been on a 197 from Chester to Manchester earlier this month, we are definitely in for an improvement once they are fully rolled out in the South. A big upgrade on every type of Sprinter and also preferred them to the 175s. 

The only reason i think the 175s could go sooner is because they will be gone by December anyway. If they can hang onto some 170s for a bit longer and also get as many 197s onto the Marches as possible from May they may be able to just about cope. Time will tell I guess.   All TFW have said it the 175s are out of service for safety checks, i think they provided an update earlier this week saying the same thing about more trains than usual needing repairs etc.

Also I agree about the 158s. Ive always rated them very highly, especially since ATW (Arriva Trains Wales (former TOC (Train Operating Company))) did their big refurbishment of them around 2010/2011 but I also liked them before that and also liked the Wessex trains version of them.  Infact before the 175s had their refurbishment when TFW took over the 158s were my favourite of the ATW/TFW trains, we just didnt get them often enough on the Marches due to them being tied to the Cambrian/Birmingham/Holyhead services. 
6  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: March 18, 2023, 07:41:36 pm
Well over two weeks later and still only around 3 or 4 175s in service.  It will be interesting to see what happens. Will they be repaired and cleared for service or they might they just scrap them and manage with the combination of 158s, 153s and 150s on the Marches until the 197s are there.   It seems by cancelling a number of services in the Valley's and West Wales, cutting back Shrewsbury-Birmingham to Wolverhampton, bus replacement on the Conwy Valley and cancelling the relatively new Newport-Cross Keys and Chester-Liverpool services they have freed up enough Sprinters to just about cope.  Fortunately some services on the Marches are 158s but a good proportion are 150 and 153s which arent great.

Interestingly yesterday one of the 4 175s that was actually in service did a HOWL service from Shrewsbury to Swansea before returning to Chester on the 1505 Swanline/Chester service. Assume this was a stock movement as there wasnt a sprinter available in Shrewsbury.  A sprinter then got swapped at Swansea and did the HOWL whilst the 175 did the Chester service.

Todays Railways magazine says TFW are in talks about keeping some 170s for longer. From May 175s were meant to go on the Maesteg to Cheltenhams with 150s I think on Ebbw Vale to compensate for the loss of all the 170s.   Could this be a sign that TFW would rather keep the 170s a bit longer and get rid of the 175s?  Nothing set in stone of course!

7  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: March 02, 2023, 02:31:43 pm
Apparently the majority of TFW 175 fleet is out of service today due to 'more trains than usual needing repairs at the same time'.  Apparently only 5 in service and just 1 diagram on the Manchester-South Wales (1130 from Manchester).   An abundance of Sprinters are substituting, fortunately a few are 158s but mostly pairs of 153s or 150s.  I have seen a number of complaints on twitter,  poor TFW online team I wouldn't want to be them today. 

It seems they have cancelled all trains between Carmarthen and Milford, Birmingham-Wolverhampton and reduced services in the South Wales Valleys to free up Sprinters to cover. 
8  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: December 31, 2022, 05:04:52 pm
I imagine the Landore loop and Carmarthen avoider isnt an issue as it is such a short amount of track.  Even the district line isnt much of an issue for a guard/ticket inspector given there are no stops on the line. The main role of the guard is to ensure any passengers for Neath and Swansea arent still on board! The last time i caught the 1830 Manchester I was alighting in Port Talbot anyway, but it was the going via the district line they were very efficient at walking through the train and checking where everyone was alighting and ensuring anyone for Neath and Swansea changed at Port Talbot. 

I used my Swanline station today for a trip to Cardiff as the timings worked out ok for me.  The up journey was going through to Manchester and 3 carriages but fairly quiet unlike a usual Saturday when everytime ive used it recently its been rammed.  When waiting for my return journey at Cardiff the Manchester service (1453) was formed of a 150 and departed about 3 minutes before the train from West Wales (from Swansea today due to engineering works) arrived.  So definitely wouldn't have maintained a connection! Seems a bit pointless splitting the service when the MK4's arent even ready yet, maybe May would have been more realistic.  And today one was subbed for a 150 not even a 175!! The 1512 Swanline was also a 2 car 175. Thats usually a pair of 153s on a Saturday.  150 on Manchester and 175 on Swanline seemed the wrong way around!   Overall a fairly quiet problem free journey in both directions to end the year.  Lets hope before this time next year the service will always been as efficient with the much needed improvements all implemented. 
9  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: December 21, 2022, 12:27:56 pm
Im not sure what is happening with the Swansea District Line and Swansea avoider at Landore.

At the moment Monday-Friday we have the 12xx Fishguard-Cardiff and 15xx Cardiff-Llanelli (which used to be a Swanline but now the Swanline stops are picked up by the 1604 Cardiff-Fishguard instead creating a big gap in the afternoon but better timings for peak time).  Also what was the 1830 Manchester-Carmarthen, since the TT change last week is now split at Cardiff but the replacement still goes via the district line Mon-Thurs.

On weekends, I think the afternoon Fishguard-Cardiff goes via Landore on both Saturday and Sunday, unsure if anything goes via the district on Saturday but I think on Sunday at least one  Cardiff-Milford goes via the district.

Id imagine they will still have to keep up route knowledge for the occasions when engineering works take place between Swansea-Llanelli.
10  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: December 20, 2022, 07:36:22 pm
I was surprised to see that the Manchester services will extend to Fishguard every 2 hours. In the other direction because of the way the timings work the return journey from Fishguard will terminate in Cardiff whilst the service going through to Manchester will be from Milford. Hourly to Haverfordwest would be useful given its quite a large town, the largest in Pembrokeshire I think and could do with a better service east to Carmarthen/Swansea and beyond.

The timings for Swanline have always been a bit too tight IMO (in my opinion) and they could do with an extra minute or so for each stop. The stops are so frequent between Swansea and Port Talbot there is barely any time once the train gets going before it slows down again.  This is why them being picked up by what should be the fast regional express trains isnt ideal.  If they are using 153s as a stopgap until the 197s are free that could run into problems with keeping to time. 197s should be good for Swanline with the doors in the middle of the carriages.

Hopefully there will be a late Swanline from Cardiff. Either that or the stops get picked up by the last Cardiff-Carmarthen as now. Currently there is a massive gap in the evening with a Swanline departing Cardiff around 1904 then nothing until the last one at 2315.  So having hourly Swanline until 2050 is a good thing but we need a later train as well.

I think the original plan may have been to have the MK4's go to Swansea every 2 hours and turn there with a replacement between Swansea-Carmarthen (or wherever it was terminating Fishguard, Milford etc) then the other hour run through to Carmarthen/Milford from Manchester as now.  This would have been better IMO rather than them terminating in Cardiff. But there just dont seem to be enough with them being used on some Holyheads too. 

11  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / 197s now in service on: December 19, 2022, 04:53:25 pm
So back in November the first 197 entered passenger service on the Conwy Valley line. A sensible place to start them off being reasonably close to Chester depot and a single diagram that does the route all day that could easily be replaced with either a 150 or a bus if there were any issues. 

Last Monday they started being used on the Chester-Liverpool service and from today 2 diagrams on Manchester Airport-Llandudno (along with the Liverpool one so 3 in service today).  The Conwy Valley is a 150 today so unsure whether thats just substituting a 197 or they are concentrating them on the North Wales coast for now. 

I understand we wont get any in the South until the May TT change at the earliest, as to my knowledge training hasn't started at Cardiff and Carmarthen depots.  But the plan seems to be to get them onto all 175 routes by this time next year.  Fingers crossed all goes to plan. 
12  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: December 19, 2022, 04:44:06 pm
Some thoughts.....  I assume this is going to be from December 2023 as i dont think enough 197s will be available by the May 2023 TT change although I could be wrong. 

Its about time Swanline got an hourly service although its a shame on the down direction there isnt a bigger gap between other services going West from Cardiff.  In the up direction it looks like they leave Swansea around 5 minutes after the GWR (Great Western Railway) so thats an improvement as before the GWR had almost caught it up by Bridgend.  They also appear to be making stops at Pencoed etc between Bridgend and Cardiff (another reason it needs to depart Swansea after the GWR) providing a half hourly service for these stations whilst Maesteg still has an hourly service but goes to Ebbw Vale now rather than Cheltenham Spa. 

When I saw the list of timetables it said Swansea-Cheltenham Spa so at first glance of this i mistakenly thought the Swanline's were going to Cheltenham Spa which could have made sense given both these routes are being increased to hourly.  But it makes sense to keep them stand alone and the timings probably dont fit. 

It seems that Swanline and Pembroke Dock will be using 153s (pairs) initially before being replaced with 197s (I assume because 197s will be used on the Maesteg-Ebbw Vale, Newport-Ebbw Vale which also gets an hourly service and the Cheltenhams).  Interesting they chose to use 153s on Swanline rather than on Maesteg-Ebbw Vale as a stopgap, perhaps its something to do with moving sets back and forth to Swansea from Canton for the HOWL and Pembroke Dock.

It appears the Manchesters will still run every 2 hours from West Wales to Manchester with the other hour starting/terminating in Cardiff.  It looks like everything booked for a 175 will be changed to a 197 by next December so the 175s days are numbered.  Sad to see them go but understandable.  I guess the 150s and 158s will still be needed for a while.  150s on Valleys and 158s on Cambrian. Plus of course we are keeping the 153s for the HOW (plus Swanline and Pembroke for a while)  So it looks like the 170s and 175s will be next to go. 

The new hourly Swanline will be good as it will be easier to plan days out knowing there is an hourly service.  Hopefully it will improve usage at these stations too with less people travelling to Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot etc from these local communities.  Even with the extra stops at Pencoed etc it will still be quicker than going to a mainline station to get a faster train to Cardiff/Swansea for many.

Overall great to see some much needed improvements i just hope they will be able to deliver when the time comes.
13  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: November 02, 2022, 06:26:08 pm
Thanks for posting those timetables. Very interesting. I believe the last but one timetable posted is just before December 2005.  I think the 1233 from Neath was the one that went to Penzance (this didnt make Swanline stops, no doubt as it was already a very long journey to Penzance!).  I believe the 1150 went to Manchester and the 950 went to the Westcountry somewhere (possibly Exeter or Plymouth).  Hard to believe the service between Cardiff was so infrequent.  Sometimes only 1 train an hour.
14  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: November 01, 2022, 09:21:53 pm
I have a feeling it all changed with the December 2005 timetable and that's when they stopped the ATW (Arriva Trains Wales (former TOC (Train Operating Company))) services to Bristol and the West of England.   With an hourly service to Manchester plus the two hourly Swanline the service level between Swansea and Cardiff went from approximately 1.5 trains per hour to 2.5 trains an hour.

I remember there was a daily service to Penzance which around 2004/2005 departed Swansea around midday. I dont think this one did Swanline stops as it wasnt part of the 2 hourly pattern. Most of the Swanline stoppers went to either Manchester or Bristol.  I seem to remember there was an hourly service going West, not sure if it was Carmarthen and Milford alternating as now.

I guess as Wessex trains operated a half hourly service to Bristol TM(resolve) the ATW services werent required. Im not sure if Wessex Trains operated half hourly services to Bristol before Dec 2005 and thats why some ATW were required. 

I wondered if it was a franchise commitment to run Manchester-Carmarthen or actually from Manchester-Cardiff and Cardiff-Carmarthen and just run them as through services as its easier, especially as they use 175s. 

15  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022 on: November 01, 2022, 12:50:05 pm
Am I correct in thinking before the December 2005 TT change Arriva/Wales and Borders only provided a 2 hourly service between Cardiff and Swansea which extended to various destinations after Cardiff - a few to Manchester, Bristol, Gloucester etc. These also called at Swanline stations. Then when the December 2005 timetable came in they stopped the services to Bristol and had an hourly service to Manchester.  Plus an extra 2 hourly for Swanline.  So there was a massive increase in services.
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