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Railwatch 072 - July 1997

South Wales

By Peter Clark

Getting Around Wales This comprehensive timetable booklet covering all public transport (other than city bus services) in Wales is published by Southern Vectis again this summer. Help RDS by purchasing your copy at the published price of £2.50 (post free) from RDS South Wales, 84 North Street, Abergavenny NP7 7ED. Cheques payable to RDS South Wales.

Cashtrack In January, new computer-controlled signals were introduced to the Valley Lines south of Pontypridd, funded by local authorities with hardly any contribution from Railtrack. Rhondda Cynon Taff council plans a follow-on £11m scheme extending the modern signalling as far as Porth in the Rhondda Valley. Although we are delighted to see such commitment to rail development, we are concerned that the scheme will make restoration of trains to the Rhondda Fach valley even harder in future because it will remove the connection to the former Maerdy branch. We wrote to the council urging it to keep this connection and provide for the necessary signalling to be slotted in at a future date.

Installing these after the resignalling would be far more costly than doing it as part of this project. The reply was disappointing. The council wants to build a road on the trackbed. We have now asked the council how building a new road on a trackbed would help it meet its targets as required under the Traffic Reduction Act.

Unfair to Wales We issued a press release deploring the Welsh Office's continuing refusal to put money into public transport when it emerged that the Department of Transport is granting £30m under its Capital Challenge scheme to rail developments in England. Welsh rail schemes have never received money from central government, despite repeated requests from RDS Wales. We believe the difference in funding policies is unfair and is holding back progress on several badly needed new stations and services.

Support The RDS campaign to restart passenger train services through the Vale of Glamorgan via Cardiff Airport and Llantwit Major received a boost before the general election. In response to an RDS questionnaire, the local candidates for all four of Wales' main parties said they supported the scheme. We were not happy with two of the responses. The Labour candidate - who won - failed to say which he thought was most important, the £2m rail scheme or the planned £54m dual carriageway road across greenfields between Cardiff and the airport. The unsuccessful Tory Walter Sweeney said the dual carriageway was more urgent.

Tackling the real issues The branch wrote to the Welsh Rugby Union in January urging it to consider using rail to remove rubble from the Cardiff Arms Park as work gets under way on the new Millennium Stadium. Cardiff residents are bracing themselves for an onslaught of heavy lorries carrying spoil from the demolished old stadium and then materials for the new stadium, and we pointed out that Cardiff Central station is only 100 yards from the edge of the construction site.

Rail way round The main Swansea to London line at Bridgend was closed over yet another bank holiday weekend at Easter, but the train operators at least heeded RDS's robust responses to last year's blockades. On Easter Sunday passenger trains on the Heart of Wales line (normally closed on winter Sundays) gave a blockade-busting alternative route for passengers travelling between south-west Wales and north Wales/northern England. Another of our requests was for the temporary arrangements to be given better publicity, which was duly provided this year.

Real Ale Trail Americans have discovered the real ale rail trail laid on annually in scenic west Wales by RDS and Pembrokeshire Rail Users' Association. The trail is being marketed abroad by the Wales Tourist Board and enquiries have been received from the USA. This summer's trail encompasses bus services in north Pembrokeshire as well as the railways. Five pairs of travel tickets are to be won by participants who use the train and bus to visit pubs on the trail. Details from Guy Hardy, Clun Felin, Wolfscastle, Pembrokeshire SA62 5LR.

Note: contact details (postal and email addresses, along with telephone numbers) in old editions of Railwatch out of date. Click CONTACT US for latest contact details.

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