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Great Western Railway

Iconic railway goods shed in Llanelli to be transformed thanks to £16,000 GWR grant

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Plans to transform an iconic Grade II-listed railway goods shed into a thriving heritage centre in Llanelli have been boosted by a grant of nearly £16,000 from Great Western Railway.

The Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust wants to turn the building into a flagship social enterprise and community hub which will become a multi-use facility addressing social, economic, environmental and cultural issues.

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The goods shed was built by GWR in 1875 and is located in the Tyisha area of Llanelli, one of the top 10 per cent most deprived wards in Wales. Its transformation will enhance Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans to regenerate this disadvantaged area.

As part of GWR’s franchise agreement with the Department for Transport, the train operator has a Communities and Education Programme to assist schools, colleges, community and other not-for-profit organisations.

Nia Griffith MP, who chairs the Trust, said: “We are very grateful to GWR for this grant which will enable us to create a heritage area within the goods shed to allow the community and visitors to access this iconic heritage asset.

“The project will allow people to experience and understand the significance of a building which has been on their doorstep for more than a century. We are looking forward to welcoming people to the Goods Shed early in the new year, when the first phase of the renovation will be complete, with office space and rooms for community use to let out. We’ve had considerable interest from people who have already come forward with photos and reminiscences of Llanelli’s railway and industrial heritage, and are keen to see this preserved and celebrated in the Goods Shed.”           

How the Goods Shed looks today (Image: Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust)

GWR’s funding will help to maximise the visitor experience through:

  • Interpretive panels and artefacts
  • A projection wall providing archive imagery and oral accounts
  • Volunteer guides who will help tell stories to bring the goods shed to life

Access to the heritage area will be free and we will be working with the local community, volunteers and schools to encourage ongoing engagement and participation.

GWR Community Manager Emma Morris said: “We’re delighted to support the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust and believe the heritage centre will be a welcome addition to Llanelli’s cultural and industrial heritage and be an especially important link to the heritage of the GWR.”

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(Lead image: Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust / GWR)

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Great Western Railway

Severn Rail Tunnel to close for engineering works

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Trains that run through the Severn Tunnel between Bristol and South Wales will be affected as part of an ongoing programme of rail improvement work this July.

Network Rail say they will carry out essential track maintenance as well as testing the electrical power supply in the tunnel in July.

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The work will see more than two miles of track, sleepers and ballast (the stones on the railway) replaced to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of the railway.

The new track will also enable the removal of a temporary 50mph speed restriction through the tunnel, improving passenger’s journeys and reducing the risk of infrastructure faults.

The track work will affect Great Western Railway services from Friday 1 to Sunday 10 July.

David Bailey, GWR’s customer service manager for South Wales, said: “The work inside the Severn Tunnel will support our train service in Wales, especially those trains running under electric power serving Cardiff Central and Newport.

“We will divert long-distance trains via an alternative route and provide road transport between Newport and Bristol Parkway to ensure customers can complete their journeys.”

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Trains between London and South Wales will use an alternative route between Swindon and Newport, stopping at Gloucester instead of Bristol Parkway.

A limited train service will still run between London Paddington and Bristol Parkway on weekdays only, otherwise they will travel via Bristol Temple Meads instead.

Buses will replace trains between Bristol Parkway and Newport, with customers advised to plan their journey beforehand.

In addition, buses will also replace trains at Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road for Filton Abbey Wood or Bristol Parkway on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 July.

Follow-up engineering work is planned that will affect trains between Bristol and South Wales on Sunday 17 July and again on Sunday 14 August (until midday).

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Mark Dix, Project Manager at Network Rail, said: “The Severn Tunnel is a vital rail link for passengers travelling between Wales and England, so it is extremely important that we invest in its future.

“Once this work is finished, passengers travelling via Bristol Parkway will experience fewer delays with much more reliable journeys.

“I appreciate that this work is going to cause some disruption for passengers, so I would like to thank them in advance for their patience.”

(Lead image: Network Rail / GWR)

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Great Western Railway

Great Western Railway get contract renewal to continue running services til 2025

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The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded a National Rail Contract (NRC) to Great Western Railway (GWR) to continue operating the Great Western network.

The new contract will run until at least 21 June 2025, with the potential for a further three years at the Secretary of State’s discretion.

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In line with the contract, GWR is committed to attracting people back to the railway by continuing to deliver improvements in customer experience, while focusing investment on sustainable services, and providing better value for money for customers and the taxpayer.

Since taking over the Great Western franchise in 2015, GWR has seen satisfaction levels among customers climb from 81% to 91%, helped considerably by the introduction of its high-speed Intercity Express Trains and the biggest timetable change in a generation in December 2019.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “We are delighted to have been awarded a National Rail Contract by the Department for Transport, which is a sign of its confidence in GWR as a trusted operator, and means we can continue to build on welcoming more people back to the railway.

“We look forward to working with our rail partners to develop services designed to meet changing customer needs, and putting passengers at the heart of an updated, modern railway.”

Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “We’re delighted to continue our partnership with Great Western Railway, and excited by its plans to deliver more benefits for local communities.

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“During the pandemic, GWR was instrumental in keeping critical services moving and this new contract will see it continue to deliver our ambitious Plan for Rail and provide a fantastic service for passengers.”

(Lead image: GWR)

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Great Western Railway

Former Prime Minister joins railway company’s independent advisory board

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The Rt Hon Theresa May MP has joined train operator Great Western Railway’s independent stakeholder advisory board, its external body of experts helping to provide opinion and oversight.

GWR operates high speed trains between South Wales and South West England to London, as well as regional and commuter services in the Cotswolds, West Country and parts of Southern England.

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Invited to join the 12-strong board by the current chair, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP said: “I know how important reliable rail services are for my Maidenhead constituents and others across the Thames Valley, therefore I welcome this opportunity which will enable me to help deliver for our area.

“It was an excellent first meeting and I am looking forward to working with the Board to push for outcomes which will directly improve services for rail users across Maidenhead and the entire GWR network.”

Welcoming the new board member Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Chair of the GWR Advisory Board, said: “I’m delighted that Mrs May has joined the GWR Advisory Board. She has been a staunch campaigner for better rail services and connections since her election as the MP for Maidenhead 25 years ago, and she will be a very welcome addition to our Board.”

GWR has had a Stakeholder Advisory Board since its conception in 2015, bringing forward the idea from First Great Western. Set up to offer a sounding board and critical, informed advice the Advisory Board includes representatives from all the routes served by GWR, covering the fields of business; academia; the voluntary sector; the House of Commons, and the House of Lords.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:“Listening to our customers, our stakeholders and our partners has always been a big part of how we do business. The Advisory Board brings together representatives from across the communities we serve, and we are very grateful for the advice and guidance the offer.

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“We also have a number of Local Transport Forums and Accessibility Panels to help us develop services and facilities to meet customer aspirations.”

Rt Hon Theresa May MP takes the vacancy created when Ranil Jayawardena MP joined the Government. Mrs May will receive no payment and no complimentary travel but will attend up to six meetings a year with the GWR senior team.

(Lead image: GWR)

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