PASSENGERS who are unhappy with rail services on the Vale of Glamorgan line can expect more travel disruption through the festive season.
Passengers have been advised to plan their journeys in advance due to major engineering works which are part of Network Rail’s Cardiff Area Signalling Renewal Project (CASR) to upgrade lines for electrification.
In the biggest renewal project for over 100 years, Network Rail is installing signalling technology with work expected to last until 2018. The railway lines in South Wales will then be electrified and the project will be completed by 2019.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We have been carrying out essential upgrade works as part of the final phase of the £300m Cardiff area signalling renewal scheme – the biggest remodelling and resignalling project in Wales ever – which will be fully commissioned over this Christmas and New Year.”
Network Rail say that the scheme will be “congestion-busting” because the signalling technology they are installing allows more trains to run along the track and so increases passenger capacity at peak times. The work has been undertaken at the weekend to try and minimise disruption.
Network Rail say the scheme will prepare the railway for the arrival of a new fleet of bigger, faster and greener electric trains.
However, Arriva, which currently runs the Wales and Borders Franchise which covers the Vale of Glamorgan line and other services between Cardiff and the Valleys, only has a finite number of trains. Their current rolling stock is 127 trains that are available for the track.
Engineering work started yesterday between Barry and Bridgend. The 21:38 Merthyr Tydfil to Bridgend service will be replaced by a bus between Barry and Bridgend until Friday.
The festive disruption will run from December 24 until January 2 affecting services between Cardiff, Bridgend, Newport, Ebbw Vale Town and Cardiff Valley Lines.
There will be no train services at Barry from 22:00 on Christmas Eve until December 27. There will be a replacement bus service until January 2, and then on January 2 Barry train services will start and terminate at Cardiff central.
Claire Lillie, PR Manager for Arriva Trains said: “It is important for passengers to check the Arriva website before travelling. Barry will be affected on certain days.”
Some residents from Barry are dissatisfied with the current train services. Marcus Stevens, 40, owner of Dimes on Pagent Road, Barry, said: “Bus replacements are useless. For people coming down here it’s not good enough. It puts people off from coming.”
Cherrelle Hobbs, 19, from Amherst Crescent in Barry said: “The trains are unreliable and it’s been going on for years. They think they are making it better but they’re just making it worse.”
Some passengers aren’t clear where the replacement bus services run from. Amy Harrison, 19, from Bath was using the Pontypridd line to get to Cardiff station on Sunday, but was unaware of the engineering works.
She said: “They should provide better replacement bus services. I don’t even know where they’re running from and I have to keep to a schedule.”
Other travellers don’t believe that the engineering works will be enough to improve services. Jannat Ahmed, 21, from Barry town centre is an MA student and frequent traveller on the line. She said: “The current service on Arriva Trains is woefully inadequate. Even without engineering works often in rush hour there are only two carriages and they are often very full.”