Tom Williams, Cardiff, one of the Assembly Government’s Climate Change Champions for 2008:
I am writing as the leader of a campaign to get more trains on a Sunday on the Arriva Trains Valleys Lines Service. This is a campaign well underway – and this blog is to recruit more people to the cause and update the public on the campaign’s progress.
This campaign is needed because the service is just so poor on a Sunday. Demand for Sunday trains is greater than ever, and as a Climate Champion I realised the environmental impact of the reduced service. This campaign has a lot of support, because the poor service is something that affects almost everyone these days, even if it’s just going to town! It is socially inconvenient, but through this campaign I hope to be able to send out an environmental message, because the cars we have to use instead release unnecessary carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. With the trains and the track already there and with increases in public transport needed, this is such an easy option.
The facts: there is no Coryton train at all on a Sunday, and the Bargoed Service, running through Heath High Level in Cardiff, is once every 2 hours. This is the only train to run through Heath High Level on a Sunday, and the once every 2 hours compares with once every 15 minutes from Heath High Level Monday to Saturday. In addition, the Pontypridd service runs at erratic times on a Sunday, averaging once every 45 minutes.
I have been in contact with the Rail & New Roads Division Business Unit, and they say fewer trains on Sundays compared to Monday-Saturday are for “historical reasons”. But history’s history, and I am campaigning because things are different today. Shops have been open on a Sunday in the city centre for well over ten years now, with extended opening hours and sales even on Sundays. Even if you believe Sunday should be a religious day then note that there are 16 churches in town alone!
I also wrote to The Echo and they ran the story last week. As they mention, I wrote to Sewta, a transport consortium for 10 local authorities in South East Wales, and they say my call for more Sunday trains “will be considered when they compile their new Regional Transport Plan”. A spokesman said: “We are delighted to hear from Tom and his ideas on the future of transport in South East Wales. We will consider his input as part of the consultation process for the Regional Transport Plan.”
So, I have to wait for a response after the Regional Transport Plan, but while I do that, I am trying to get people on side, and spread the word on this issue. There is also a Facebook group setup in support of this campaign. Currently there are 98 members. Please get everyone you know to join this. I am also on the Youth Editorial Team for the new “what’s-on” site for young people in Cardiff – www.thesprout.co.uk – and I ran a small poll. 28 voted yes, there should be more trains running on a Sunday, and only 1 voted no. The results speak for themselves!