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Transport for Wales

Brand new TfW trains arrive in Wales

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Brand-new trains have arrived in Wales that Transport for Wales say will herald a new era of transformational train travel – including more capacity and improved services

TfW is investing £800 million in new trains for the Wales and borders network – with the first two brand new trains from train manufacturer Stadler being delivered to the TfW depot at Canton, in Cardiff, for testing.

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The new Class 231 FLIRT trains arrived in Wales from Switzerland and are the first of 35 to be delivered over the next 24 months from Stadler.

The FLIRTs will be a key part of the South Wales Metro, the three quarters of billion-pound transformational project being delivered by TfW, providing more capacity and more frequent services that will be greener for the environment.

Through working with train manufacturers Stadler and CAF, TfW is investing a total of £800 million into brand new trains that will begin to run on the network for customers next year.

Transport for Wales Class 231 FLIRT train at Canton depot (Image: Transport for Wales)
One of the new trains at Canton depot in Cardiff for testing (Image: Transport for Wales)

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said: “The new vehicles are a transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing across South Wales offering greater capacity, more frequent services with improved facilities encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport. 

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said: “The arrival of these brand-new trains is another major milestone for TfW and signifies another step forward on our transformational programme to deliver a transport network that the people of Wales can be proud of.  

“We’re investing £800 million into new trains that will provide more capacity on our network, they will have more and improved seating, provide air conditioning, power sockets and passenger information screens with up-to-the- minute travel information.  The customer is at the heart of our planning at TfW and these trains will have more space for bikes, people with limited mobility and pushchairs. 

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“People will now start to see some of our new trains being tested on our network and we’re looking forward to seeing the first new units enter service for customers next year.” 

One of the new Transport for Wales Class 231 FLIRT trains at Canton depot (Image: Transport for Wales)
One of the new Transport for Wales Class 231 FLIRT trains at Canton depot (Image: Transport for Wales)

Sandro Muster, Project Manager for Stadler, said: “The arrival of the first unit in Cardiff is a momentous occasion for everyone involved in the project. Not only Stadler, but our client, Transport for Wales, and above all, the people who will soon be travelling on them. Passengers will notice a massive difference in the ride quality, the comfort and the attention to detail.

“We will now embark on an extensive programme of testing to ensure that they are ready for commercial service. Every aspect of the train, from their on-board features to energy consumption trials, noise levels and signalling, will be scrutinised rigorously.”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Look out for a loved one this Blue Monday say Samaritans Cymru

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Today marks Blue Monday, supposedly the most difficult day of the year, but the leading suicide prevention charity says feeling low can happen on any day of the year and that we need to be aware of how the pandemic is increasing those feelings amongst many of us.

As pandemic uncertainties continue, Samaritans Cymru is encouraging people to get their mugs out and share a drink with a friend, neighbour or colleague who may be struggling to cope. 

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Although winter is thought to be one of the harder seasons with dark days and frosty nights, Samaritans volunteers hear similar concerns all year round from those that contact the charity. The main concerns include mental health and illness (46%), family (34%) and loneliness (28%)*. 

National treasure Dame Julie Walters joins faces from TV and comedy, including James Acaster and Keith Lemon, and talented artists across the UK to encourage people to have a cuppa and a chat with someone they care about for Samaritans Brew Monday. 

Samaritans Ambassador Dame Julie Walters thinks people can really make a difference to someone’s day just by asking if they are OK. She said: “People go through a range of emotions throughout the year so the idea of feeling blue on one day is a load of rubbish. I’ve had my fair share of blue days and have found solace in speaking to loved ones over a glass of something or two. 

“It is a simple action that can go a long way, particularly now when so many people continue to feel isolated and lonely. It doesn’t have to be Monday, or a cuppa, connecting with someone at any time during the year shows them you are there and ready to listen.” 

Talented artists who have experience of mental health struggles, including Cardiff-based Nathan Wyburn of Britain’s Got Talent fame,  have also lent their paintbrushes and pencils by creating uplifting illustrations that share a message of connection with others over a cup of something and a catch up. 

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Nathan Wyburn has had his own mental health struggles and anxiety which at times stalled his creativity, but he credits the power of talking in his recovery. Nathan is known for creating art with food, including portraits of Mariah Carey and Tim Peake, so for Brew Monday Nathan created an uplifting portrait showing two people connecting, made with coffee and biscuits. Nathan said: 

“Having suffered with anxiety, panic attacks and bouts of depression for many years, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to do anything in those moments, let alone talk – but take it from me, once you open up about how you’re feeling, it can be life-changing. I’m so proud to be supporting Brew Monday and really hope my coffee art catches someone’s eye and makes them think to pick up the phone to a friend. You never know just how much a simple conversation could help someone.”  

Samaritans Cymru continues to highlight how the pandemic has widened inequalities in Wales in order to tackle the prevalence of suicide. Living in poverty, job insecurity and loneliness and isolation are all social issues which have risen during the pandemic but it is important to recognize these are all risk factors for suicide. Reaching out to those around us and asking how they are over a cup of tea or coffee, could actually be a lifesaver, 

With support from Network Rail, Transport for Wales and the wider rail industry, Samaritans will have a presence at train stations across Wales throughout January, supporting key workers and those who are travelling, providing tea bags and tips on how to be a better listener, along with their helpline details.

Bethan Jelfs, People & Change Director at Transport for Wales said: “We’re proud to once again be supporting Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign at stations across Wales to help spread the message that it is important everyone reaches out to check on family and friends and also takes time to look after their own mental health.  With almost two years of Covid-related restrictions, which has impacted on some people more than others, this vital awareness campaign is needed more than ever.”

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Krista Sexton, Head of Operational Risk at Network Rail added: “We’re proud to support Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign as it provides a simple but effective way for us to reach out to our railway colleagues and loved ones who might be needing a little extra support. The past two years, during the pandemic, have been difficult on many people’s mental health but, we know, not everybody always wants to share their concerns. 

This poignant campaign reminds us to stop and listen and encourage those struggling to open up and have a chat over a cup of tea.” 

Lead image: Samaritans volunteer has a virtual catch up for Brew Monday. (Image: Abbie Trayler-Smith)

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Transport for Wales

Increase in Welsh train services announced from 12 December

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Transport for Wales (TfW) customers are being encouraged to check their journey details as an increase in train services comes into effect in December 2021.

From Sunday 12 December, a new rail timetable will be in place across the TfW Wales and Borders network. It will also see the re-introduction of direct services between Crosskeys and Newport for the first time in almost 60 years.

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While the times of many services will be unaffected, customers should still ensure they double check their departure, arrival and connection times.

Colin Lea, Transport for Wales Planning and Performance Director, said: “We are introducing more services across our network and making adjustments elsewhere from the 12th December. It’s really important for customers to check their journey details ahead of travelling. 

“As we welcome more customers back to our services, some trains will be busier than they have been for a while, especially in the busy period leading up to Christmas.  At present social distancing is not a requirement, but face coverings are mandatory, unless exempt. For those customers who wish to travel on quieter services, they should use our Capacity Checker tool.

Timetable Changes

Valleys Services

  • Crosskeys – Newport (hourly service until 21:20 Monday to Saturday). New route. Note: A separate press release and details of a media event regarding the introduction of this new route will be distributed later this week
  • Crosskeys – Newport (every two hours Sundays). New route.
  • Cardiff Central – Ebbw Vale Town (22:34 Monday to Friday). Additional service until 31st December 2021.
  • Cardiff Central – Ebbw Vale Town (23:02 Friday). Additional service from 3rd January 2022.
  • Cardiff Central – Ebbw Vale Town (23:07 Monday to Thursday). New service from 3rd January 2022.
  • Cardiff Central – Ebbw Vale Town (23:02 Saturday). Additional service.
  • Cardiff Central – Maesteg (22:37 Monday to Thursday). Additional service.
  • Cardiff Central – Maesteg (22:36 Friday). Additional service.
  • Pontypool and New Inn. Pre-Covid service numbers resume.

Cardiff City Line

  • Fairwater – Coryton (changing from 15:10 to 15:08). New departure time.

West Wales

  • Carmarthen – Pembroke Dock (21:10 Monday to Friday). Additional service.
  • Carmarthen – Pembroke Dock (21:00 Saturday). Additional service.
  • Pembroke Dock – Carmarthen (22:27 Monday to Friday). Additional service.
  • Pembroke Dock – Carmarthen (22:18 (Saturday). Additional service.
  • Carmarthen – Fishgaurd Harbour (18:05 Monday to Friday). Additional service.
  • Carmarthen to Fishguard Harbour (18:02 Saturday). Additional service.
  • Fishguard Harbour – Carmarthen (19:05 Monday to Friday). Additional service.
  • Fishguard Harbour to Carmarthen (19:00 Saturday). Additional service.
  • Cardiff Central – Swansea extending to Carmarthen (22;27 Saturday). New service.

Heart of Wales Line (from 3rd January 2022)

  • Swansea to Shrewsbury (09:28 Monday to Friday). Additional service.
  • Swansea to Shrewsbury (09:12 Saturday). Additional service.
  • Shrewsbury – Swansea (05:56 Monday to Friday). Additional service.

Cambrian Coast Line 

  • Barmouth – Machynlleth (06:45 Monday to Saturday. Additional service.
  • Cambrian Coast Line (mid-morning services on Sunday). Resumption of services.

Wrexham Central – Bidston

  • Wrexham General – Bidston (12:34). Train service resumes.
  • Wrexham General – Bidston (13:34 Tuesday to Thursday). Train service resumes.

Cheltenham Spa and Gloucester

  • Cheltenham Spa – Cardiff Central (05:37 Monday to Friday). Additional service.
  • Cardiff Central – Gloucester (23:20 Monday to Friday). Additional service. 

Rail Replacement Bus Services: 

  • Radyr – Merthyr Tydfil / Aberdare / Treherbert (from approx. 19:30 until 24th March 2022).
  • Cardiff Central – Merthyr Tydfil / Aberdare / Treherbert (from approx. 19:30 Sunday to Thursday, commencing 28th March 2022).

The new timetables will remain in place until May 15 2022, when TfW expect to add additional services into timetables ahead of the summer tourist routes.

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Train services continue to be affected in aftermath of storm of Storm Arwen

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Storm Arwen had a major impact on rail services over the weekend and services will continue to be affected this week.

Speed restrictions were in place across much of the network across the weekend with wind speeds of up to 90mph in some parts of Wales.

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The extreme weather throughout Friday night and early Saturday morning resulted in damage to overhead line equipment and fallen trees and debris landing on the track creating a hazard for trains.

Network Rail worked throughout the weekend to reopen as much of the network as possible by Monday morning. However, where TfW trains have run over debris, they need to be returned to the depot for safety checks and to be repaired, and this will impact rail services this week.

TfW is encouraging all customers to check before they travel using https://journeycheck.com/tfwrail

Work continues on clearing debris on the railway following Storm Arwen (Image: Transport for Wales)

Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, Managing Director of TfW Rail said: “Storm Arwen had a major impact on rail services over the weekend with many lines closed by fallen trees and other obstructions.  This caused damage to a number of our trains, and our fleet engineers have worked through the weekend checking the damage and repairing rolling stock in our depots. 

“It will take some time to complete all the repairs, and this will have an impact on train services in the meantime.  I would encourage customers to check before travel for the latest updates.

Rachel Heath, Operations Manager at Network Rail Wales & Borders, said: “Our teams have been working around the clock to clear-up the aftermath of Storm Arwen. It’s thanks to their hard work, in very challenging conditions, that we managed to re-open most lines by Monday morning.

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“Once again, it is a reminder of the challenges we face on the railway during periods of extreme weather.”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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