More than 180 extra train services will be provided in Wales on Sunday a day after almost 40 had to be cancelled because of a lack of staff.
Transport for Wales (TfW) is introducing 186 extra Sunday services this weekend. It’s good news for places like Maesteg which has never had trains on a Sunday before.
Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog will also gain year-round Sunday services and there are extra trains on the Cambrian lines in Mid Wales.
But the new services mean that fewer drivers and conductors will take Sunday as a rest day.
There were already signs that TfW Rail Services, the company which runs the Wales and Borders franchise, may not be employing enough staff. Last summer there were so many cancellations – many of them because a driver or conductor was not available – that TfW Rail Services was issued with a formal “performance improvement notice”.
It also follows a day of serious cancellations and delays today (Saturday, December 14) because of not having enough staff.
TfW has so far cancelled more than 36 services and around 18 others have been delayed.
For example, the 8.30am from Manchester Piccadilly to Carmarthen got only as far as Crewe, 40 minutes down the line. Normally it would provide a service into Cardiff Central from Abergavenny, Pontypool and Cwmbran in late morning.
The 11.09am from Carmarthen to Manchester was started from Cardiff Central, depriving Carmarthen and Llanelli passengers of a train to Swansea and Cardiff.
In Mid Wales, trains were cancelled between Aberystwyth or Machynlleth and Shrewsbury via Newtown and Welshpool, and on the Shrewsbury to Swansea line via Llandrindod.
Cancellations planned for tonight affect people travelling to Ebbw Vale, Chepstow, Barry, Maesteg, Barmouth, Pwllheli, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Bangor, Holyhead, Aberystwyth, and Tenby, among others.
The shuttle between Cardiff Bay and Queen Street is due to stop running before 11pm.
WalesOnline asked TfW whether the cancellations were down to TfW not having enough staff to cover the extra Sunday trains on top of the existing timetable, and whether this would lead to more cancellations in the coming weeks.
A TfW spokesman said: “We are continuing to do everything possible to ensure the maximum number of services are operating every day and this time of year can always be challenging, particularly on weekends, and we’re sorry that there have been a number of cancellations on our network today.
“As always, we are very grateful to colleagues who gave up their own time to volunteer to work overtime and rest days.
“This weekend will see a major transformation in our timetable where there will be a 40% increase in Sunday services, and at the same time more and better trains will be introduced to our fleet.
“Over the past few months we have been meticulously planning and preparing for the new timetable by recruiting additional staff and we’re confident that customers will see a real change as we introduce the additional services including extra capacity across our network.”
It is understood that the Sunday services depend on drivers and conductors volunteering to work on Sundays.
The new Sunday services are a flagship improvement under the new franchise, awarded by the Welsh Government in June 2018.
TfW described the changes as the “most significant changes to train times on our network in the last ten years”.
Here are the new services for passengers on Sundays
- A new Cardiff Central to Maesteg service
- A new Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog service
- More than doubling the number of services between Cardiff Central and Swansea from 14 to 29
- Services from Cardiff to Gloucester will start two hours earlier than last year
- Five services in each direction between Pwllheli and Machynlleth
- 21 services between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury as opposed to 16
- 32 brand new services between Llandudno and Llandudno Junction
- Seven extra services between Rhymney and Cardiff and 29 extra services to and from Caerphilly
- An hourly service between Treherbert and Cardiff
- An enhanced Barry Island service
- More and later trains between Cardiff Queen Street and Cardiff Bay