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 Driver's view of the line

Photo:- Robert Davies/ "Of Time and The Railway"


This page updated 10th Jan 2019

We aplogise for the wesbite not being updated for some time. This was owing to circumstances beyond our control resulting from our webhost moving the site to a new server.

SARPA is the local rail users group for the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth line running from the English border through Montgomeryshire to the coast of North Ceredigion and ending up in the increasingly important University (and Assembly administration ) town of Aberystwyth. We exist to preserve and promote the line so that there is a more sustainable transport system for future generations. SARPA is one of the more active rail user groups in Wales and are continually campaigning on various issues from train times and frequency to station maintenance and welcome any comments anybody has about the rail service in Mid Wales.

The Wales and Borders Franchise changed hands in October 2018 and the bid has been won by KeolisAmey. We look forward to working with the new operator, who run under the brand name "Transport for Wales".


It was great to see so many people at our Annual General Meeting in Machynlleth at the beginning of October. I'd like to extend warm congratulations to two new officers: Sarah Harvey, our Secretary, and Bill Redfern, our Membership Secretary and Treasurer. I'm sure both of them will make a valuable contribution. Of course, we also discussed our hopes and fears for the Cambrian Lines.

At a time which is full of promises for the future, but which is also full of current difficulties, it's clear that SARPA is more relevant than ever before. On the one hand, new trains are on the way (in 4 years), and this in itself is promising. Certainly, it's great to see Transport for Wales promising things like lots of tables on the trains and luggage racks - things that we have been fighting for - citing the feedback that they have received from stakeholders. By continuing to push for an internal layout on the trains which reflects the aspirations of passengers on the Cambrian, we can ensure major improvements on the line.

On the other hand, the recent performance in general has been appalling. There have been staff shortages, and there are shortages of carriages whilst many of them are being modified to accessibility standards that were announced about 20 years ago. Although trains need to be made accessible to disabled passengers, much less trouble would have been caused if Arriva had begun this work before.

But anyway - many passengers have complained about the current standards of service. A great example of this was the August bank holiday - a very busy time on a railway like the Cambrian - where many trains were cancelled and the rest tended to be short formed. This kind of thing has been seen for several months.

Certainly we need to continue to push for features such as tables, seats that align with windows, luggage racks and so on in the new trains, but we cannot ignore the need to push for improvements to the services over the next 4 years. Cancelled or short-formed trains are a huge disadvantage for passengers and for the local economy, and it can turn people away from the railway. Therefore we will raise the subject fairly regularly over at least the months to come.

Jeff Smith
October 2018

You can see what we said about the railway industry in the past by clicking on this link to our archive page. We have archived all the newsletters back to November 2001.

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Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth Rail Passengers Association (SARPA)
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