Rail passengers in Wales and the borders are being urged to check before they travel over the festive period as engineering work takes place throughout the network.
This includes Transport for Wales’ ongoing work to develop the South Wales Metro, with buses replacing trains between Pontypridd and both Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare from Saturday 27 December to Thursday 6 January.
The transformation of the Core Valley Lines for the Metro has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government, and will enable faster, more frequent services between Cardiff and the heads of the valleys.
The closure period will allow engineering work to take place, as part of preparations for the introduction of brand new electric tram-trains. Replacement bus services will be in operation between Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare and Pontypridd. Services between Radyr, Pontypridd and Treherbert will also continue to be replaced by buses in the evenings while overnight work takes place.
Network Rail is continuing work on a £30m refurbishment of Gwynedd’s iconic Barmouth Viaduct, protecting this vital transport link for future generations. The Cambrian Coast Line between Machynlleth and Pwllheli will continue to be closed until Wednesday 29 December, with replacement buses running.
Train services between Shrewsbury and Crewe will be replaced by buses on 27 and 28 December as Network Rail undertakes work to replace the Mill Street bridge in Wem. Most of the work will take place between 11 pm on Christmas Eve and the morning on 29 December. Once complete, the brand-new bridge will ensure more reliable journeys for rail passengers and road users in north Shropshire.
Network Rail is taking advantage of the railway being closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to carry out key projects in partnership with two local authorities along the South Wales Mainline. Working with Newport Council, a brand-new, fully accessible footbridge will be installed at Newport railway station, making travelling easier for passengers by linking Devon Place and Queensway. This work will not impact train services.
Meanwhile, working alongside Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, Network Rail and contractors will also be removing the Llanharan railway footbridge, adjacent to the A473, in Llanharan. The old footbridge is no longer fit for purpose and the council’s contractor will commence work in February 2022 to replace the bridge. Pedestrians are reminded to follow the diversions that are in place at both locations while work is underway.
Great Western Railway services between London and South Wales will also be altered between 27 and 31 December due to engineering work being undertaken by Network Rail. Services will divert between Newport and Swindon, which will extend journey times by around 25 minutes. Trains will call at Patchway instead of Bristol Parkway, which will be only served by replacement buses. For more information, please visit the GWR website.
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said:
“We’ve committed to ambitious plans at TfW to develop the South Wales Metro and it’s fundamental that we continue to move forward with our delivery. The work that will take place during this festive period is a major step towards delivering faster, more frequent and greener services between Cardiff and the heads of the valleys.
“We’re also working closely with our partners Network Rail as they undertake vital work throughout the Wales and Borders network to ensure rail services continue to be safe and reliable.
“I’d like to thank all our customers and railway neighbours for their patience and urge those who need to travel to plan ahead.”
Bill Kelly, Wales and Borders route director at Network Rail said:
“The refurbishment work we are doing over the festive period is vital to the long-term future of the railway in Wales.
“We are hoping to minimise disruption for passengers by carrying out much of the work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – when there are no timetabled train services.”
“I want to thank passengers for their continued patience and remind them to plan their journeys in advance.”
Customers are also reminded that wearing a face covering while on public transport remains the law in England and Wales, unless exempt. A face covering must also be worn whilst in enclosed stations.
Transport for Wales are working with British Transport Police on a joint operation over the festive period to keep passengers safe. Operation Genesis will see extra officers and rail staff out across the network throughout December to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as provide reassurance and personal safety advice to the public.
BTP Superintendent for Wales, Andy Morgan, said:
“We want to everyone to enjoy the festive season and we’ll be working closely with our partners to make sure everyone gets home safely.
“Rail is one of the safest ways to travel – but we see how alcohol can really affect judgement, people often take greater risks, and standards of decency and general behaviour can worsen. We urge passengers to take extra care of themselves and others during this period to make sure they have a safe journey and take responsibility for their own behaviour.
“As well as having extra officers on hand across the network, we want to remind passengers of our discreet text service. Save the number ‘61016’ in your phone, in case you ever need our assistance on the railway.”