West Wales Line


West Wales Line

The West Wales Line is a railway line from Swansea through Carmarthenshire to Pembrokeshire, West Wales. It has three branches, to Fishguard, Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock.

Before the rail cuts of the 1960s, the route was more extensive, with the towns of Cardigan and Newcastle Emlyn also served, and with a cross-country route from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth, via Lampeter.

The route

The cities, towns and villages served by the route are listed below. Towns in bold are served by InterCity express services.

wansea to Whitland

*Swansea
**connection with South Wales Main Line
*Gowerton (request stop)
*Llanelli
**connection with Heart of Wales Line
*Pembrey and Burry Port
*Kidwelly (request stop)
*Ferryside (request stop)
*Carmarthen
*Whitland

Pembroke Dock branch

Originally built as the South Wales and Pembroke and Tenby Junction Railway it was given approval by an Act of Parliament in 1859, and opened in 1864 having been engineered by Sir James Szlumper [ [http://members.lycos.co.uk/Graham_Davies/Railways/PandTR.html G J Davies] ] . It had its own police force until 1897, due to the high-security of the Naval Dockyard at Pembroke Dock, and the munitions transported. [ [http://www.btp.police.uk/History%20Society/Publications/History%20Society/Constituent%20Force/Railway%20Police/Printable/Pembroke%20and%20Tenby%20Railway%20Police%20brief%20history.htm British Transport Police] ]

*Narberth (request stop)
*Kilgetty (request stop)
*Saundersfoot (request stop)
*Tenby
*Penally (request stop)
*Manorbier
*Lamphey (request stop)
*Pembroke
*Pembroke Dock

Milford Haven branch

*Clunderwen (request stop). Former junction for the North Pembrokeshire Railway line.
*Clarbeston Road (request stop)
*Haverfordwest
*Johnston (request stop)
*Milford Haven

Fishguard Harbour branch

*Fishguard Harbour
*former connection with the North Pembrokeshire Railway, which had its track lifted for the War Effort in 1916.

Services

Most services are run by Arriva Trains Wales, who run an hourly service from Manchester Piccadilly to Carmarthen via South Wales Main Line and Welsh Marches Line calling at Llanelli and Burry Port. This service is extended to Milford Haven every two hours. There is also a two hourly service from Swansea to Pembroke Dock calling at all stations.

The Fishguard Harbour branch has two trains per day only; to connect with ferry services to Rosslare Europort, Ireland. All intermediate stations on this branch have been closed for several years and trains to Fishguard do not stop at the request stops between Fishguard and Whitland.

First Great Western also run at least one train per day from London Paddington to Carmarthen, and on summer Saturdays, two trains run from London Paddington to Pembroke Dock. The first up service calls at all stations from Llanelli to Pembroke Dock whilst calling at selected stops on the down service. The second up service calls at the selected stations to Pembroke whilst calling at all stations to Llanelli on the down service. This marks a severe reduction from previous arrangements where high speed trains used to operate between Milford Haven and London Paddington.

Usage

The majority of usage of the west Wales line is from Swansea, Llanelli and Carmarthen, the other stations accounting only for a small percentage of journeys. Most rail users drive to one of the major stations (Haverfordwest, Carmarthen, Llanelli) rather than use the smaller stops.Fact|date=January 2008 Although there is some commuting, traffic west of Tenby and Haverfordwest is very seasonal and includes tourism. Local government is currently proposing to increase the tourist potential of the services. Passenger usage in South Wales has grown by 11.4% between 2001 and 2004 and this trend is expected to continue.Fact|date=January 2008

Historically the line carried a great deal of heavy freight traffic. With the run down of coal and other heavy industry this has fallen dramatically. Nevertheless large amounts of freight continue to be moved. Recent developments have included facilities at Fishguard Harbour and Trecwn for sending Intermodal freight traffic from Ireland direct via rail.

Future plans

SWWITCH is currently performing a business case review of the Fishguard branch, and whether it is viable to continue to operate a passenger service. The results of this may lead to the withdrawal of services from Fishguard, or their improvement.

An early stage feasibility study is being undertaken by the Welsh Assembly Government with Network Rail for the re-doubling of the section of line between Llandeilo Junction and Cockett, and the redoubling of the section at Swansea Loop East junction. This would permit more trains to stop at Gowerton, (in particular Heart of Wales trains), to enable an increase in the number of trains over this section, decrease train waiting times and improve timetabling. Re-doubling the section would facilitate a new station to be opened at Cockett. [http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/StrategicBusinessPlan/R14%20-%20South%20and%20Central%20Wales%20and%20Borders.pdf]

Also under consideration by WAG is changing the status of the Pembroke Dock branch to a community railway and possibly then using light-rail or tram/train vehicles to provide a better and more cost effective service. Currently it is not clear how any such changes would be funded and Network Rail have no plans to perform them.

Plans are under consideration (by Pembrokeshire County Council) for a new deepwater road/rail intermodal port at Milford Haven.

References


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