TRANSPORT for Wales customers are being urged to check their journey details and plan ahead with a new timetable coming into effect next week and services likely to be busy over Christmas.
The UK rail industry’s winter timetable change comes into effect on Sunday 13 December and on the Transport for Wales network there will be a number of changes to departure times, to provide customers with more consistency moving forward.
Over Christmas, services will run into the evening of Thursday 24 December and as is standard, there will be no service on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Services will resume with the normal Sunday timetable on 27 December and customers should expect these to be busy.
Customers are advised to consider other travel options on 27 December to ensure there is space for those making essential journeys.
Network Rail are carrying out vital track and signal upgrade work in the Cardiff area from 27 December until Sunday 3 January so customers traveling to and through the city should expect some changes to journeys, replacement road transport on some services and possible platform alterations.
There is also work on the Western route, which may affect passengers travelling from South Wales into England. There will be a reduced service of trains to Bristol Temple Meads (26 December to 9 January) while the roof is replaced and the station re-wired. The station will still be open.
Customers should use journey planning systems on the Transport for Wales website and National Rail Enquiries to ensure they are informed of their journey details. Transport for Wales also provide a capacity checker that gives customers an idea of which trains may have plenty of space and those that are typically full based on recent travel patterns.
Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “This has been a difficult year for us all, and the lifting of the travel restrictions for Christmas will be welcomed by many. But it could put additional pressure on rail services, some of which will already be reduced. Please help TfW who will be working hard to get you home safely. Plan your journey by checking ahead and choosing off-peak times wherever possible, wear a face covering and travel responsibly.”
James Price, Transport for Wales Chief Executive, said: “With the lifting of travel restrictions we’re anticipating an increased level of demand on the 23, 24 and 27 of December but our teams will be doing all they can to get people home.
“The new timetable from 13 December will see some changes to departure times so it’s vital customers check the latest travel information. Some services may see short notice changes and customers should be aware of planned rail improvement works, use our Capacity Checker to find trains with the most space to support social distancing and, where available, reserve a place on your preferred train in addition to buying your ticket well ahead of the day of travel.
“Public transport remains a very safe way to travel and we have additional cleaning and safety measures in place, as well as additional teams on the network to ensure people are following the rules and wearing a face covering, unless otherwise exempt.”
Speaking on the Christmas engineering work, Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Wales route director, said: “This work is vital in bringing more reliable, faster and better rail services for passengers in and out of Cardiff.
“Christmas is usually the quietest time on the railway which is why these essential upgrades have been scheduled to take place at this time, ensuring disruption is kept to a minimum.
“We are urging passengers to check before they travel to make their journey as smooth as possible and we thank everyone for their patience while we carry out this essential work.”