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Fears over train service cuts for Shropshire

By Sue Austin | Oswestry | Transport | Published:

Shropshire rail passengers are to see services cut to make way for an express train between Cardiff and Holyhead.

Transport for Wales train at Shrewsbury

The services will be removed if the timetable proposed by Transport for Wales is introduced on December 15.

Rail users groups are protesting over the changes which will see the county lose its hourly rail service.

The draft timetable from Transport for Wales, which took over the franchise for Wales and the Borders earlier this year, includes a new, locomotive-hauled passenger service on Mondays to Fridays leaving Cardiff in the morning and returning from Holyhead in the afternoon.

John Mattocks, chairman of the Shrewsbury to Chester Rail Users Association, said the draft timetable shows the northbound service leaving Shrewsbury at 9.01am, stopping only at Wrexham between Shrewsbury and Chester with no stops at Gobowen, Chirk and Ruabon.

“The existing 9.33am from Shrewsbury calling at all stations is cancelled. This means a two-hour gap in the service to Chester from intermediate stations.”

"The 9.33am is importantly the first off-peak service on the line giving passengers access to cheaper fares particularly important for long-distance journeys."

The train calls at Ludlow, Craven Arms and Church Stretton which means passengers in the south of the county would be affected.

"In the afternoon the southbound service is shown as calling at all stations but a later Cardiff service would be withdrawn which would result again in more than a two hour gap in the service."

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Mr Mattocks said that there had been an hourly service for the past 15 years.

"All parties campaigned heavily in the lead up to the Arriva trains franchise in 2003 and as part of the franchise we saw the introduction of an hourly service between Chester Wrexham and Shrewsbury. These services are well patronised and many will be reliant on these particular trains.

"We were promised at the start of the Transport for Wales franchise in October 2018 more frequent services, improved and new rolling stock and more Sunday services. No mention was made of reducing the services provided. This has been without any consultation to any party."

The rail users service is writing to local MPs and the Welsh Government's Transport Minister, Ken Skates, whose constituency is along the Chirk to Wrexham line.

Mr Mattocks said: "We need to encourage people out of their cars and into trains. This will simply encourage people to drive to their destination or the station where they can pick up the service they need."

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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