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Author Topic: Carmarthen to London  (Read 10397 times)
Sixty3Closure
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« on: August 18, 2017, 04:22:28 pm »

I'm in the process of buying somewhere in West Wales hopefully with the aim of working remotely a couple of days a week and staying in South East England the rest of the time. I'm current in the Thames valley so don't have a very positive view of GWR services but was wondering if the Carmarthen service was more reliable? There seems to be an early morning train (about 06.30ish) that would work for my commute to London but is it crowded? Does it run most days?
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 07:23:04 pm »

www.recenttraintimes.co.uk will give you performance data for a specific train and is a very useful tool.  Other sites also have similar data.
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John R
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2017, 08:04:35 pm »

The through train leaves at 0730 and arrives at 1131, so that might be a bit late for you.  Good value advance tickets as low as £23 appear to be available though.

Out of interest the through service in the evening (1715) shows as being valid off peak for Carmarthen (£65.50 single) but not to Swansea (£128 single).
So in the evening peak you can get a single to Carmarthen for £1 more than a single to Swindon. 
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bobm
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2017, 08:57:27 pm »

There are a few evening journeys out of Paddington with pricing like that.

Exeter St Davids and Newton Abbot on the 18:03 for one.
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Rhydgaled
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2017, 10:23:01 pm »

The trains from Carmarthen are, sadly, very slow if travelling anywhere east of Swansea. There is also only one GWR service each way Monday to Friday (3 on Sundays, Saturdays vary depending on the time of year); everything else is Arriva Trains Wales and formed of 3 coaches or less. That's not normally a problem eastbound (because bording in S.W. Wales means you get on the train first) but coming back seats can be hard to come by between Cardiff and Swansea. I was an hour and 25 minutes later than planned into Whitland yesterday because I took one look at the 13:39 service I had planned to catch out of Cardiff and decided I wouldn't be able to find a seat due to the number of pepole already boarding. Instead I waited for the following GWR service to Swansea and changed there; I could have got to Carmarthen a bit sooner but not Whitland.
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Sixty3Closure
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 10:58:24 pm »

I am actually a bit further West of Carmarthen but looking at the 'local' services it didn't seem worth catching them to somewhere like Cardiff or Swansea and the GWR to London looked a better bet. Useful to have that confirmed. I can cope with getting in at 11.30 - would see me at my desk by 12 and in no rush to go anywhere till heading back west a couple of days later.

£23 pounds also seems reasonable if I can get organised enough to buy advance singles well in advance.
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chrisr_75
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2017, 11:32:14 pm »

I used to do Bridgend to Paddington weekly and gave up a couple of years ago due to increasing cost, general unpleasantness of other rail users on the services I utilised and poor reliability of both the mainline trains and the Metropolitan Line that I used to get from/to Paddington. Getting to/from Bridgend station from my home was also an expensive taxi ride that I no longer have to pay/endure (I do not like small talk in taxis or the appalling standards of driving!).

Predictably, I now shuttle up and down the M4 by car each week, which is quicker, cheaper, less stressful and (touch wood) less prone to delays if timed right (I typically travel in the late evening).

My office location is on the westernmost boundary of London, close to the M4, so travelling by road is a sensible option for me. I would definitely consider this option if your office location is favourable, at least until the new trains & timetable are well established.

Sorry not to be more positive about rail services on a forum such as this, but this is a truthful representation of my experiences!  Smiley
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2017, 01:50:14 am »

I am actually a bit further West of Carmarthen but looking at the 'local' services it didn't seem worth catching them to somewhere like Cardiff or Swansea and the GWR to London looked a better bet. Useful to have that confirmed. I can cope with getting in at 11.30 - would see me at my desk by 12 and in no rush to go anywhere till heading back west a couple of days later.

£23 pounds also seems reasonable if I can get organised enough to buy advance singles well in advance.

That's the "Red Dragon".  I took that train (Swansea to Swindon) on Wednesday morning.  Plenty of local traffic into Swansea, but I suspect still plant of space too - good flow not flood coming offf when it arrived.  Plenty of space on board as far as Swindon too - clue in an announcement at Cardiff that "Super off Peak tickets are not valid on this train".   Good opportunity for me to work as I travelled (lots of emailing done).   Noticeable crowds joined at Swindon - take a look and see if you can work out how busy that might be away from the summer period, and give some thought to how it might be on Mondays ... I would suspect that it's busier on Mondays, but less will be joining it at Swindon come the autumn.  A bit academic as you should get a good seat joining it at the start or at Swansea.

Will that train become 5 or 9 carriages when the 125 becomes an 80x?

Interesting display board at Swansea - "First class accommodation will be at the front of the train".   Had to ask if that was going to be at the front on arrival, or the front on departure.  Saying it will be at the front at a station in reverses in mid-service needs clarification!    For the avoidance of doubt - wanted to know which end so I could wait at the other end.

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stuving
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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2017, 09:10:52 am »

Interesting display board at Swansea - "First class accommodation will be at the front of the train".   Had to ask if that was going to be at the front on arrival, or the front on departure.  Saying it will be at the front at a station in reverses in mid-service needs clarification!    For the avoidance of doubt - wanted to know which end so I could wait at the other end.

Surely if a station only has one end, and a sign on the station is understood as for those joining it (far fewer wait for alighters), the front is the end trains leave at? At Reading the signs often tell you "front train only" when platform 5 has two in it, and that sounds sensible enough. The fact you are coming from behind the buffers there probably enhances the frontness of the other end.

It's reversals in a through platform that cause the ambiguity, and a train that's already there when you arrive and sets off in a surprising direction is even worse. To add one more factor, if your platform is announced and you find your train (which starts from there) is in two coupled parts which all say the front is for X and the back is for Y, but its direction when leaving is unknown and not what you'd think (it happens to be east while the destinations are all to the west) ...
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Gordon the Blue Engine
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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2017, 01:23:20 pm »

.. even if you think you know.  For example, at Birmingham New Street XC trains to Cheltenham (first stop) and beyond can leave in either direction, depending on whether they are routed via Camp Hill or Selly Oak.  There must be other examples of where one TOC operates trains directly from A to B (ie no intermediate stops) and departure from A can be in either direction, but I canít think of any at the moment.

I realise that this observation is of limited value to the OP.

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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2017, 02:06:18 pm »

There must be other examples of where one TOC operates trains directly from A to B (ie no intermediate stops) and departure from A can be in either direction, but I canít think of any at the moment.

Not without stops ... but at least once during the day, two trains leave Motherwell final destination Glasgow Central at the same scheduled time and in different directions.

I believe that Trent to Derby used to leave either way.
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Rhydgaled
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2017, 09:17:02 pm »

I am actually a bit further West of Carmarthen but looking at the 'local' services it didn't seem worth catching them to somewhere like Cardiff or Swansea and the GWR to London looked a better bet. Useful to have that confirmed. I can cope with getting in at 11.30 - would see me at my desk by 12 and in no rush to go anywhere till heading back west a couple of days later.

£23 pounds also seems reasonable if I can get organised enough to buy advance singles well in advance.

That's the "Red Dragon".  I took that train (Swansea to Swindon) on Wednesday morning.  Plenty of local traffic into Swansea, but I suspect still plant of space too - good flow not flood coming offf when it arrived.  Plenty of space on board as far as Swindon too - clue in an announcement at Cardiff that "Super off Peak tickets are not valid on this train".   Good opportunity for me to work as I travelled (lots of emailing done).   Noticeable crowds joined at Swindon - take a look and see if you can work out how busy that might be away from the summer period, and give some thought to how it might be on Mondays ... I would suspect that it's busier on Mondays, but less will be joining it at Swindon come the autumn.  A bit academic as you should get a good seat joining it at the start or at Swansea.
Weekdays it is 'The Red Dragon', but the weekend services (other than the summer-only 'The Pembroke Coast Express') aren't for some reason. The weekend services to Paddington are also not such an early start; the Carmarthen to Paddington on Saturdays for example is 09:30 vice 07:30 on weekdays.

Will that train become 5 or 9 carriages when the 125 becomes an 80x?
Remember that, when the trains were ordered, the 9-car sets for the Great Western were all to be class 801 units (insufficient diesel power for running in normal service); so the DfT at least were thinking 5-car for Carmarthen services (and other off-wire destinations).

The draft weekday diagrams that went with the order show that the eastbound service, as well as being reduced to five coaches throughout, might be retimed to depart Carmarthen at 06:23 instead of 07:30. They also show that the westbound train, 17:40 off Paddington in the draft IEP timetable, would break one of my rules for treating passengers nicely as it would divide on-route (10-car to Swansea, 5-car onwards). That rule, for those who haven't seen it before, is that a passenger boarding any part of a train should be able to alight at any advertised stop subsequent to the one they boarded at without having to leave the train to change coaches on-route.

Interesting display board at Swansea - "First class accommodation will be at the front of the train".   Had to ask if that was going to be at the front on arrival, or the front on departure.  Saying it will be at the front at a station in reverses in mid-service needs clarification!    For the avoidance of doubt - wanted to know which end so I could wait at the other end.
At Derby in the past week I noticed that the annoucements for some XC services said that first class would be in the front of the train as it arrives in the station, this will be at the rear of the train when it departs. I guess Swansea might not have this as generally the Great Western services are originating at Swansea (and ATW services through Swansea don't have first class).

I used to do Bridgend to Paddington weekly and gave up a couple of years ago due to increasing cost, general unpleasantness of other rail users on the services I utilised and poor reliability of both the mainline trains and the Metropolitan Line that I used to get from/to Paddington. Getting to/from Bridgend station from my home was also an expensive taxi ride that I no longer have to pay/endure (I do not like small talk in taxis or the appalling standards of driving!).

Predictably, I now shuttle up and down the M4 by car each week, which is quicker, cheaper, less stressful and (touch wood) less prone to delays if timed right (I typically travel in the late evening).

My office location is on the westernmost boundary of London, close to the M4, so travelling by road is a sensible option for me. I would definitely consider this option if your office location is favourable, at least until the new trains & timetable are well established.

Sorry not to be more positive about rail services on a forum such as this, but this is a truthful representation of my experiences!  Smiley
Since you're giving unfortunate suggestions of this nature, I'll just point out that when certain members of my family go to watch rugby in Cardiff they drive to Port Talbot Parkway and try to get a GWR service into Cardiff. My father occasionally goes on business trips to London and when he does this he also drives to Port Talbot Parkway to board a GWR train. I'm not sure how much of that is down to the lower frequencies of trains west of Swansea and how much is down to the journey time which between Carmarthen and Port Talbot is sadly much slower than driving. When I've tried to pursuade my mother to use a station further west for the rugby the response is normally that it is hard to get back in the evening; something which the frequency and journey time certainly don't help with.

Port Talbot Parkway has been referred to as an important gateway station for Pembrokeshire by one of the county's MPs, so it isn't just my parents that use it in preference to Pembrokeshire stations. That is something I want to see change, but what sort of service do we need out in south-west Wales to get pepole to use their local station?
« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 09:24:48 pm by Rhydgaled » Logged

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Don't DOO it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
WelshBluebird
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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2017, 12:33:52 am »

That rule, for those who haven't seen it before, is that a passenger boarding any part of a train should be able to alight at any advertised stop subsequent to the one they boarded at without having to leave the train to change coaches on-route.

Out of curiosity, whose rule is that? As it is one that is already broken on many many journeys existing today.
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martyjon
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« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2017, 09:21:32 am »

This mornings Carmarthen to Paddington service cancelled.
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phile
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« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2017, 09:23:04 am »

This mornings Carmarthen to Paddington service cancelled.

Blocked by broken down freight at Ferryside
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