Vast increase in Sunday rail services in Wales announced

Class 170 at Cardiff station.

Transport for Wales (TfW) is planning to transform the Sunday train timetable by adding 186 new services from December.

The new services will represent a 40 per cent increase in services across the Welsh network, bringing a true seven-day railway several steps closer and providing an economic boost throughout the country, providing essential links between cities, towns and villages. 

There will be a Sunday service to Maesteg for the very first time, services will be doubled between Cardiff Central and Swansea, additional seasonal services will run all year along the North Wales Coast and there will be increased frequencies on the Valley lines.

Ken Skates
Minister for Economy and Transport
Welsh Government.

A new all year-round Sunday service of four services in each direction between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog is expected to help boost the tourism industry, while the Cambrian coast will also see a huge benefit, with services increasing from just one Sunday service a day in each direction between Machynlleth and Pwllheli to five in each direction.

Announcing these significant increases, Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates said: “Transport is fundamental to the success of our economy in Wales and this dramatic increase in the number of Sunday services will increase connectivity between our cities, towns and villages.

“These services will improve access for social, recreational and educational opportunities, as well as employment opportunities.  Later services will also increase options for people attending late night events across the country.”

Colin Lea, Transport for Wales.

Transport for Wales customer experience director Colin Lea added: “We’ve committed to giving customers the service they deserve on a Sunday and are delighted to be able to make these improvements. Some lines which never had a Sunday service before, will now be connected, giving greater leisure and economic benefits to so many areas.

“A huge amount of hard work has gone into developing this timetable for our customers.  We’ve seen some fantastic collaboration with our partners in Network Rail in securing access for earlier and later services, by moving planned maintenance times and I’d like to thank all involved for their hard work.”

James Price, Transport for Wales.

James Price, chief executive for Transport for Wales, stated: “This significant increase in Sunday services is an important commitment that we made when we launched our new rail service over a year ago, and follows the successful launch of our May 2019 timetable, where we introduced direct services between Liverpool and Wrexham for the first time in decades.

“We hope that our customers and potential customers will welcome these services as an important step in building a transport network that the people of Wales can be truly proud of.”

Service increases

TfW had already announced that the December timetable will include the following improvements on weekdays:

  • More four-carriage trains on peak services on the Valley lines – combined with other rolling stock changes, this will provide space for up to 6,500 more commuters every week;
  • Modern Class 170 trains on services between Cheltenham and Maesteg, and between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale will offer more space, onboard passenger information systems, accessible toilets, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power sockets;
  • Some long-distance services between North Wales and Manchester will be served by trains with ‘Mark 4 intercity’ carriages offering more comfort and services to passengers.

To those weekday improvements, TfW has now added the new Sunday services:

Wales and Borders Lines  

  • New Maesteg Sunday service for the first time ever;
  • Four new services in each direction between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog, the first time ever those lines will have an all year-round Sunday service;
  • Double the number of Sunday services between Cardiff Central and Swansea, rising from 14 services between the two cities to 29;
  • Services from Cardiff to Gloucester will start two hours earlier than during the December 2018 timetable;
  • Most Marches services will have intermediate stops removed between Shrewsbury and Crewe, with those stations to be served by a Shrewsbury to Crewe local shuttle service, resulting in much faster direct journey times;
  • The extra stopping services between Crewe and Shrewsbury provided by the local shuttle will give people in Shropshire and Cheshire a significant number of new services when travelling on a Sunday, up from nine services per day to 16;
  • The current solitary Sunday service between Pwllheli and Machynlleth will be increased to five in each direction, giving passengers many more travel options;
  • Enhanced Cambrian service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury increases from 16 services to 21
  • The current Chester to Crewe summer timetable will now be all year around;
  • On the North Wales Coast, additional trains, which currently run only over the summer, will now be in service all round;
  • Another year-round service will connect Llandudno to Llandudno Junction – there has never been a winter Sunday service on this route before, meaning anyone wanting to visit the town between December and May had to use Llandudno Junction, but now 32 brand-new services between the two are being introduced in December.
Llandudno Junction will see many more services, particularly on a Sunday.

Valley Lines

  • The existing Sunday service on the Rhymney line will be enhanced, with seven extra services between Rhymney and Cardiff, alongside an almost tripling of services to and from Caerphilly – 16 each Sunday will become 45 from December;
  • A new hourly service will be introduced between Treherbert and Cardiff, taking the total number of Sunday services from 15 now to 28;
  • There will be an enhanced Barry Island Sunday service, similar to the current summer timetable but running all year;
  • The Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay shuttle will increase from 100 services per Sunday to 130 and will run up to 22:00, as opposed to the existing 19:00 finish, giving people even more options to enjoy the Bay area on a Sunday.

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