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 Driver's view of the line

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


This page updated 19th November 2023

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 Welsh Government 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 we are continually campaigning on various issues from train times and frequency to station maintenance. We welcome comments from anybody about the rail service in Mid Wales.

Transport for Wales rail services were brought under Welsh Government control from February 2021. The takeover from KeolisAmey has taken place with day-to-day services now run by a publicly-owned company. This follows significant falls in passenger numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

KeolisAmey will continue to be involved in operations, particularly in the South Wales region.

However, all is not well and the current dire state of Transport for Wales rail services, not only on the Cambrian but elsewhere across Wales and the Borders, was feared by some as the outcome of the Welsh Government getting its hands on control over day to day rail provision. The consensus is that the service provided is currently at its worst in living memory, worse than the maligned Arriva Trains Wales operation, worse than Central Trains and worse than British Rail's later post sprinterisation years. For all the bluster of a world class Wales and repeated use of phrases like Metro and embarking on journeys; the actual journeys that the public in Wales are finding on their rail are very different.

We really do hope that the effort is made to effect a real improvement.


It's difficult to tell how much has changed since my last message. Although the railway is still popular, the lack of carriages, unreliability and a constantly delayed hourly service are stopping the Cambrian from reaching its full potential. And we know that the aspirations of people, communities and organisations along the line, along with everyone who wants to see a better, greener world, want to see the line reach its full potential.

There is of course good news to celebrate. Despite the disruption to passengers of closing the coast line for a significant period, Barmouth Bridge is being renewed with new metal work being installed to last for many years - at least a century, hopefully. We welcome work to ensure that the line continues to flourish and we have been very lucky with Barmouth Bridge over the years.

This summer, a solution was found to allow 4-car trains on the coast line for the first time in years, and in time for the National Eisteddfod near Pwllheli. We look forward to seeing more 4-car trains along the coast line in future.

Following this of course, there will be a need for more units on the Cambrian in general. Transport for Wales has already shown flexibility with their rolling stock strategy in other parts of the network and I hope that SARPA and others can persuade them to fit more units with ERTMS so that passengers can enjoy the full benefits of the great work that has happened on the coast line recently

Jeff Smith
Cadeirydd SARPA/SARPA Chair
November 2023

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)
   c/o Arosfa,   7 Railway Terrace,  Heol y Doll,  Machynlleth,  Powys,  SY20 8BJ  Wales,  United Kingdom
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