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Carmarthenshire

Bwcabus goes online

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Passengers using the award winning Bwcabus service in Carmarthenshire will soon be able to book their journeys online.

Carmarthenshire County Council has team up with Transport of Wales to launch the new fflecsi Bwcabus online app.

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fflecsi Bwcabus will give people the choice to book and track their journeys on their mobile as well as booking over the telephone via a new call centre.

The popular bus service has been operating since 2009 and serves rural communities across North Carmarthenshire and South Ceredigion.

It operates with a mix of prebooked and fixed route journeys.

Single or return journeys can be booked up to 28 days in advance and up to an hour before travelling.

Passengers can also continue to use Bwcabus fixed route services.

Tailored to the needs of its passengers, journeys can be pre-booked allowing people to travel between local towns and villages within the zone or connect to the main line bus services to travel to places such as Aberystwyth, Carmarthen, Cardigan, Haverfordwest and Fishguard.

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The fflecsi Bwcabus app can be downloaded for free from play store on Android or Iphone mobile phones.

Alternatively, the new Transport for Wales call centre is open from 6am to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 9am-7pm on a Sunday.

To book a journey call 0300 234 0300 – calls are charged at a local rate and free to call from mobiles or landlines with inclusive minutes/calls.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “We’re delighted to be working with Transport for Wales on this new development. As we have seen over the last 12 years with Bwcabus, on demand transport has been extremely popular here and we believe this is a great opportunity to improve the public transport offer across the region and provide our residents with bus services that give more choice and flexibility on their journeys. I’m sure fflecsi Bwcabus will continue to be popular with passengers and we are delighted to be working with our partners to provide public transport services fit for today and the future.”

Bwcabus is a partnership between Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire county councils and has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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Improved Transport for North Pembrokeshire

Meanwhile Bwcabws and Fflecsi Pembrokeshire are joining together to provide an integrated service, with standard fares and booking procedures.  

The move will enable customers to switch seamlessly between buses, said Cllr Phil Baker, Pembrokeshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure.

“This is great news for passengers,” he said. “Instead of having two different systems and pricing structures, the whole process will be streamlined, make booking transport much more straightforward.”

He added: “The TfW Fflecsi service has demonstrated how demand responsive transport can play a vital part in transforming public transport in other parts of Pembrokeshire already. We are delighted to be playing a part in delivering this innovative new service enhancement and learning from the customer and operational feedback provided by the new technology.”

Whilst the bus serving the Bwcabus zone will still be operated by Richards Bros, the service will become part of Fflecsi Pembrokeshire which will see the introduction of matching ticket fares.

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The amalgamation will also allow customers the ability to book via the Fflecsi App and get a confirmed booking straight away. Customers will still be able to phone to book by using the Fflecsi Call Centre – 0300 234 0300.

Fflecsi Pembrokeshire is now made up of four zones:

  • St Brides – covering the West coast from Little Haven up to St David’s, across to Trefin, down to Haverfordwest and then back across to Little Haven.
  • St Aidan – covering the North coast from St David’s to Lower Town Fishguard, down to Trecwn, across to Newgale and back up to St David’s.
  • Jemima – covering central north Pembrokeshire from Haverfordwest, up to Abercastle, across to Lower Town Fishguard and back down to Haverfordwest.
  • Bwcabus – covering central north Pembrokeshire from Castlemorris, across to Mynachlogddu, down to Llanycefn, across to Hayscastle Cross and back up to Castlemorris.

The fixed Bwcabus routes will also be returning and these can be used without prior booking:

642 (Crymych-Mynachlogddu-Llangolman-Rhosfach-Maenclochog-New Moat-Clarbeston Road to Haverfordwest) – Every Friday

643 (Puncheston-Little Newcastle-Ambleston-Wallis-Woodstock-Spittal to Haverfordwest) Every Monday and Friday

644 (Rosebush-Maenclochog-New Moat-Clarbeston Road to Haverfordwest) – Every Tuesday

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645 (Trecwn-Puncheston-Little Newcastle-Letterston to Haverfordwest or Fishguard) – Every Thursday

There are also some improvements which are being made to schedules of the three existing Fflecsi zones:

  • On Saturdays, the service will be available throughout the three zones from 08.30 to 18.30.  
  • More journeys available between 12 noon and 1 pm [as the drivers will be taking a more flexible lunch break].
  • New ticket options.  As well as weekly and monthly tickets for regular passengers, Fflecsi are introducing a new 12 trip ticket, giving significant savings against the single ticket price. [12 trip tickets for journeys under 5 miles £18 adult, £7.20 child; 12 trip ticket for journeys over 5 miles £25.20 Adult, £14.40 Child].  This is a great option for people wishing to travel regularly but not every day. It also offers a discounted option for groups travelling together.  
  • You can now see all the public transport options for your journey in one place.  The app will show you information about fixed bus services (such as the T5 and T11) if they are an option for your journey.
  • Community groups and activity organisers – please talk to Fflecsi about how they could help meet your members’ travel needs.  Contact Karel on pvtprojectcoordinator@gmail.com 

Also, with the coastal buses now moving to their winter timetables, Fflecsi Pembrokeshire continues to run six days a week throughout Northwest Pembrokeshire, giving access to the coast from Fishguard, around the St Davids peninsula to Little Haven.  

Lead image: Bwcabws in Wolfscastle (Image: Pembrokeshire Council)

For more information visit www.bwcabus.info

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Llanelli

West Wales car dealership to double in size

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Dafen-based Llanelli Motor Company have broken ground on a new development that will see their forecourt double in size over the coming months.

Led by Managing Director Ian Jonathan, the two-phase project will see the independent car dealership increase the number of used vehicles it has on sale to over 400 by January 2023.

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“It’s certainly an exciting period for the business,” said Ian, “and with the significant changes to the used car market, we felt now was the right time to start the project, which has been in the pipeline for over five years.”

Although the business was potentially looking at 2020 as a start date for the developments, the Coronavirus Pandemic put the brakes on the project.

However, since the easing of lockdown restrictions and the delay in obtaining new vehicles, the used car market has seen an unprecedented spike in demand.

Dafen based Llanelli Motor Company is planning to double in size
The company have broken ground on an expansion that will see over 400 cars on sale by the end of January 2023

“The last 12 months have been exceptionally busy,” continued Ian.

“No sooner are we finalising our 140-point safety check on vehicles before placing them on the forecourt, than they are being purchased within a matter of days”.

With the ability to stock 150 nearly new vehicles of all makes and models at the moment, the 1-acre expansion will increase this to 250 by September before more than doubling it to 400 by the spring of 2023.

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In order to facilitate this growth, the company will also be entering a recruitment phase and looking to employ at least 10 new members of staff across its sales, workshop and admin teams as well as taking on new apprenticeships.

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Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

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Brand new trains that aim to transform services across Wales and the English borders have been on show today at Chester railway station.

Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag was revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.

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TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.

Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including services in South West Wales – Manchester to Milford Haven, Cardiff to Fishguard and Swansea to Pembroke Dock.

Offering leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens, the new trains will transform the customer experience. They’ve also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network. These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”

Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.

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“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.

Richard Garner, UK Director CAF said: “CAF is thrilled that the first of our Class 197 trains for the Wales and Borders network has been officially launched.

“We are immensely proud of our key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ vision to transform rail travel for passengers.

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“The manufacture of our trains is taking place at our state-of-the-art facility in Newport, South Wales. We see ourselves as a local manufacturer, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing employment opportunities to the local area whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.

Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.

His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.

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The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.

The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.

“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.

“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”

The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.

He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.

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“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”

He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.

“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.

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