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Transport for Wales

Train travellers urged to plan ahead for December travel

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Transport for Wales (TfW) are urging their customers to check their journey details and plan ahead with a new timetable coming into effect next week and services likely to be busy over Christmas.

The UK rail industry’s winter timetable change comes into effect on Sunday 13 December and on the Transport for Wales network there will be a number of changes to departure times, which TfW say are to provide travellers with more consistency moving forward.

Over Christmas, services will run into the evening of Thursday 24 December and as is standard, there will be no service on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Services will resume with the normal Sunday timetable on 27 December and travellers are told to expect these to be busy.

TfW are advising train users to consider other travel options on 27 December to ensure there is space for those making essential journeys.

Network Rail are carrying out vital track and signal upgrade work in the Cardiff area from 27 December until Sunday 3 January so people traveling to and through the city should expect some changes to journeys, replacement road transport on some services and possible platform alterations.

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There is also work on the Western route, which may affect passengers travelling from South Wales into England. There will be a reduced service of trains to Bristol Temple Meads (26 December to 9 January) while the roof is replaced and the station re-wired. The station will still be open.

Travellers are being recommended to use journey planning systems on the Transport for Wales website and National Rail Enquiries to ensure they are informed of their journey details. Transport for Wales also provide a capacity checker that gives customers an idea of which trains may have plenty of space and those that are typically full based on recent travel patterns.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “This has been a difficult year for us all, and the lifting of the travel restrictions for Christmas will be welcomed by many. But it could put additional pressure on rail services, some of which will already be reduced. Please help TfW who will be working hard to get you home safely. Plan your journey by checking ahead and choosing off-peak times wherever possible, wear a face covering and travel responsibly.”

James Price, Transport for Wales Chief Executive, said: “With the lifting of travel restrictions we’re anticipating an increased level of demand on the 23, 24 and 27 of December but our teams will be doing all they can to get people home.

“The new timetable from 13 December will see some changes to departure times so it’s vital customers check the latest travel information. Some services may see short notice changes and customers should be aware of planned rail improvement works, use our Capacity Checker to find trains with the most space to support social distancing and, where available, reserve a place on your preferred train in addition to buying your ticket well ahead of the day of travel.

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“Public transport remains a very safe way to travel and we have additional cleaning and safety measures in place, as well as additional teams on the network to ensure people are following the rules and wearing a face covering, unless otherwise exempt.”

Speaking on the Christmas engineering work, Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Wales route director, said: “This work is vital in bringing more reliable, faster and better rail services for passengers in and out of Cardiff.

“Christmas is usually the quietest time on the railway which is why these essential upgrades have been scheduled to take place at this time, ensuring disruption is kept to a minimum.

“We are urging passengers to check before they travel to make their journey as smooth as possible and we thank everyone for their patience while we carry out this essential work.”


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Haverfordwest

“Inspirational” Haverfordwest station retailer celebrates 60 years’ service

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A station retailer who has clocked up 60 years’ service has been praised as “an inspirational member of the railway family” by Transport for Wales.

Jimmy Summons, who runs the newspaper kiosk at Haverfordwest station in Pembrokeshire, began his career in the days of steam trains whistling past to meet the ferry at Fishguard when he was just 16-years old in 1961.

Over the years he’s seen Richard Burton, Prince Charles and Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II at the station and has served Lord Snowdon and Soldier Soldier actor Jerome Flynn.

And just a month short of his 77th birthday, Jimmy says he has no plans to retire yet.

“My cat wakes me up at 4:45am and I head down to make tea and get the papers ready,” says Jimmy, who has lived in the town his whole life.

“I’ll deliver to my customers around the town before coming down to the station to meet the early train.

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“I love it because you never know who might walk through those doors or where they might be going, but I try to treat them all the same.”

Jimmy outside Haverfordwest Train Station (Image: Transport for Wales)

Having left school at 15, Jimmy worked with his brother before taking on the kiosk with a permit from John Menzies to sell newspapers, books and tobacco in the same year President John F Kennedy was inaugurated in the USA.

It was the last days of steam, before the Beeching axe had fallen on railways across Wales, and Haverfordwest had a much larger team managing parcels and wages from the site.

“We had some brilliant times over the years,” said Jimmy.

“I’ll always remember my good friends Dai Havard and Jimmy Morgan. The railway staff used to look after me when I was a youngster first starting and I’ve always loved being a part of things here. We’ve had plenty of fun over the years though there have been a few memorable moments.

“Once, many years ago, we had a parcel trolley fall on the line and I had to jump down with the rest of the boys and help get it up again before the train came through. Another time I had to warn the guard that a lorry had hit the railway bridge up ahead.

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“Richard Burton came in while he was filming Under Milk Wood in Fishguard and got the train back to London, though sadly we didn’t see Elizabeth Taylor.

“We’ve had all the royals through over the years and I remember waving to Prince Charles and getting a wave back when they were off to an occasion at Picton Castle.”

Jimmy has clocked up 60 years working as a retailer at Haverfordwest Train Station (Image: Transport for Wales)

Jimmy has been married to his beloved wife Lorraine, 74, for many years and she too is still working, in a residential home, despite being older than some of the people she looks after.

He stopped selling cigarettes several years ago and has seen the book trade diminish over the years.

“Not as many people seem to like reading on their journey any more, which is quite sad. They all seem to be on their phones or iPads. But it’s nice that a lot of my older customers have started coming back after Covid and the papers are picking up more.

Transport for Wales Station Manager James Nicholas said: “Jimmy really is part of the fabric here at Haverfordwest and all our customers and colleagues think the world of him.

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“The fact he’s up so early every day and is still working so hard to provide such a great service for our customers even after 60 years is phenomenal and he really is an inspirational member of our railway family. Thank you for all the hard work Jimmy and here’s to many more years at Haverfordwest.”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Charity

Transport for Wales support for Alzheimer’s Society Cymru is on track

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Transport for Wales (TfW) has unveiled a new design on one of its flagship trains in support for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Members of the public, via the TfW Twitter account, voted for three charities it would like to see the organisation support by branding a number of its trains. 

The charities chosen were Tŷ Gobaith (children’s hospice services), RNLI (lifeboat charity) and Alzheimer’s Society Cymru (dementia charity).

The Alzheimer’s Society train was officially launched this week (27 September) to coincide with September being World Alzheimer’s month.

A set of TfW’s newly introduced Mark IV carriages have been wrapped in the Alzheimer’s Society Cymru eye-catching brand, with bilingual information where more information about the charity and dementia can be easily found.  As the branded train makes it way around the Wales and borders network, it is believed the potential audience for the newly branded train runs into the hundreds of thousands, especially as more and more people are returning to travel on trains.

TfW is already a supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society Cymru and supports the charity’s Dementia Friends initiative. Dementia Friends information sessions are designed to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia. 

Details of the Dementia Friends information sessions are included in TfW’s staff induction programme and staff are encouraged to become Dementia Friends.  Once staff have attended an information session (online or in person) they can wear an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends badge on their lanyard. Customers can then see they have a greater understanding of dementia, which can benefit those with dementia or those travelling with someone with dementia.

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TfW’s Director of People and Change, Bethan Jelfs, said:“We are extremely pleased to be supporting the Alzheimer’s Society Cymru.  Those involved at the charity give so much to those reaching out for support, be it on the telephone, online or face to face.

“I look forward to seeing the Alzheimer’s Society Cymru Mark IV train running across our network and am very glad that we can promote them and their key messages to a large audience.”

Sue Phelps – Alzheimer’s Society Cymru Country Director, commented: “We’re delighted that members of the public have voted to have our logo and information on the Transport for Wales Alzheimer’s Society Cymru Mark IV train. What a fantastic and unique way to raise awareness of dementia which affects 45,000 people in Wales. People affected by dementia have been worst hit by the pandemic. Alzheimer’s Society support services have been a lifeline, used over six million times since March 2020, showing we are needed more than ever.

“Whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society Cymru for help and advice. Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line (Welsh speaking line 0330 947 400/English speaking line 0333 150 3456) is open seven days a week providing information, advice and emotional support to anyone affected by dementia, or you can visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.”

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(Lead image: TfW)

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Police and Crime

New railway company scheme helps put former prisoners on the right track

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Transport for Wales is launching a scheme that they say will help rehabilitate people and provide them with an opportunity to change their life. 

‘Building Futures – On the right track’ is a partnership pilot scheme that will provide a chance for up to ten people in prison to work on the new South Wales Metro project and be based in the heart of the valleys at Treforest Infrastructure Hub.  

The scheme that hopes to provide relevant vocational experience and change the outlook on life for people is a TfW partnership made up of ARC – Making the difference, HMP Prescoed, Coleg y Cymoedd, Amey Infrastructure Wales, and TfW’s Infrastructure delivery partners, Alun Griffiths Contractors, Balfour Beatty Rail and Siemens Mobility.  

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change launched the new scheme and said: “The South Wales Metro project is not simply a transport project, it’s about changing the lives of people in the south Wales valleys and beyond. This excellent project is a great example of investment in tackling climate change has far broader benefits for communities.” 

Karl Gilmore, TfW Rail Infrastructure Director added: “At TfW, we are closely aligned with the Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015) and are fully committed to equality and diversity.  We are pleased to launch our ‘Building Futures – On the right track’ programme today as it allows us to use our South Wales Metro infrastructure development programme as a way of helping to rehabilitate people.  It allows us to work with our Alliance partners to provide a rehabilitation scheme that will hopefully offer offenders a brighter and more successful future.”  

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