The Anonymous Widower

Transport for Wales Is Invading England

There is an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled TfW Targets Swansea To Bristol Services.

This is the first paragraph.

Transport for Wales Rail Services is aiming to start an open access service between Swansea and Bristol Temple Meads, commencing in December 2020.

These are characteristics of the proposed service.

  • Hourly service
  • Calls at Neath, Port Talbot Parkway, Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Filton Abbey Wood stations.
  • Sixteen services per day will run Monday to Saturday in both directions, with twelve services on Sundays.
  • Trains will be Class 170 or Class 175 diesel trains.

Looking at current times of sections of the route, I suspect that services could take a few minutes under two hours and would need four trains.

Reasons given for planning the service include.

  • Long-term political pressure.
  • Welsh ministers abandoning plans for the £1.6 billion M4 Relief Road around Newport.
  • Cross-Severn road traffic has increased after abolition of tolls.
  • Main roads on either side of the Severn are congested.
  • Increased house sales in South Wales to people who work in the Bristol area.

Incidentally, before I read the article, if you asked me, I’d have thought there would be a direct service.

My only thought about the service, is that as there will be electrification between Bristol and Cardiff, why not run a proper fast bi-mode train like a Hitachi Class 800 train or a Stadler Class 755 train. The latter of which Transport for Wales have on order, for delivery in 2023.

The Class 755 train or its Welsh cousin, could be an interesting option.

  • The distance without electrification between Cardiff and Swansea is 46 miles.
  • Transport for Wales tri-mode version of the Class 755 train could have three batteries and a diesel engine in the four slots in the powrpack car.

Could it have the capability of jumping the gap.

Birmingham Services

The article also says that, Transport for Wales are also planning to extend their services that terminate at Birmingham to Coventry.

  • Holyhead and Birmingham New Street takes three hours.
  • Aberystwyth and Birmingham New Street takes three hours
  • Pwllheli and Birmingham New Street takes five hours

As Birmingham and Coventry takes twenty minutes or perhaps a convenient hour to go to Coventry and return with a relaxed turnround, does the extension make these three long services simpler to operate?

Extra positioning services from Crewe to Coventry in the morning and return in the evening are also proposed.

These would  also suggest that improving the ease of operation of these services is the reason for the extension to Coventry.

Liverpool Services

The article also says that these services to Liverpool will be added in 2022.

  • An hourly service to Llandudno.
  • A two-hourly service to Cardiff.

It isn’t said, if one of these services is an extension to the recently launched Liverpool and Chester service.


The Welsh are getting ambitious.



June 27, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. If you look a the new metro planed service and the stock requirements. There will not be any spare TRI FLIRTS as the service leaves 1x 3Car Flirt and 2x 4Car FLIRTS available which will probable be out of use in the maintenance rota.

    Comment by Michael Fox | June 27, 2019 | Reply

    • As they’d need four trains for Swansea and Bristol, they would need more trains and surely to buy more of a train they are already buying would be a sensible option.

      Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2019 | Reply

      • The TRI FLIRTS are only for the METRO. They have 11x Bi Mode FLIRTS as well for Suburban Services but TFW show long distance services will use Mrk4 (class67) and CAF Civity from 2023

        Comment by Mike Fox | June 27, 2019

      • I duspect that all the bi-mode Flirts of TfW and Greater Anglia are 100 mph units with similar power packs. The only differences will be in seating layout and what power sources are put in the four slots of the power pack. So Bristol and Swansea stock would be the same train to maintenance staff with perhaps more diesel power and less batteries.

        Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2019

      • CAF also highlights the modular nature of their Civity platform I think all the manufacturers will increasingly emphasise this, as railways around Europe move away from diesel.

        Comment by Peter Robins | June 27, 2019

      • Agreed! But CAF diesel Civities seem to have a mechanical transmission
        Battery and hydrogen operation needs an electrical transmission, as does regenerative braking to the batteries.
        CAF would need to supply some electric trains with batteries.
        So it would be another type of train on the fleet!

        Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2019

      • I’ve just looked up the distance between Cardiff and Swansea and it’s just 46 miles. I suspect that a Flirt with three batteries and one diesel engine might be able to handle it. It would certainly fit in with greening of the valleys. I also think that battery trains will attract passengers, as many will believe 100 mph battery trains won’t work. Once they try it, they’ll be converted. I’ve talked to passengers on the Harwich branch, who had three months of the Class 379 train and they were sorry to see it go, as it performed quietly and reliably. Battery trains are their own best sales reps!

        Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2019

      • I’m all for using TRI FLIRTS I just know what they have ordered. It will be interesting to see how far a battery can take them. The TRI FLIRTS also have a lower seating capacity because they have more doors than the Bi FLIRTS.

        The ORR application for the Bristol service states they plan to start the service (dec 2020) using 2/4/6 class 158. But after the new rolling arrive we shall see

        Comment by Mike fox | June 27, 2019

      • I’m watching to see when Greater Anglia introduce their Flirts, as these will answer a lot of questions. They’ll also be working them on some long routes like Lowestoft and London. If passengers and staff like them, expect more orders. I’ve had a couple of good reports from drivers

        Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2019

  2. the Liverpool services have always been part of the plan – and yes, they will replace the current LPL-CTR service. I’m not entirely sure what they mean, but guess the “hrly train to Llandudno and Shrewsbury” means it will divide at CTR, with every other one continuing to Cardiff. Could be wrong though 🙂

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 27, 2019 | Reply

    • I seem to remember finding something dimilar!

      Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2019 | Reply

  3. I used to travel Newport-BTM quite often, and it was always crowded, ridiculously so in rush-hour, so I think an increased service is overdue. Interesting that they’re going open access. The bit into BTM is not electrified yet though, though I would imagine it should be towards the top of the list once Cardiff is complete. Then Padd-BTM and Cardiff-BTM would both be pure electric.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 27, 2019 | Reply

    • I have read somewhere, that 755 pantographs can go up and down at a similar rate and frequency to a whore’s drawers.

      Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2019 | Reply

    • I see there are problems reported in the Severn Tunnel Perhaps the solution is to put batteries in the electric trains rather than diesel and use those in the tunnel. NR are reported to still be on course for improved timetables in December, though, which seems to mean the remaining electrification should be ready by then.

      Comment by Peter Robins | June 28, 2019 | Reply

      • I saw that! You wouldn’t need large batteries, as I suspect you wouldn’t be any great losseso or require much power in the tunnel.

        Comment by AnonW | June 28, 2019

      • NR’s press release on December timetables for Cardiff and completion of electrification is at

        Hitachi have been running battery hybrids on partly electrified lines in Japan for several years, so have the track record to be able to incorporate batteries in 80n trains as required.

        GWR currently run 2 services between Cardiff and BTM: the Portsmouth one – a good candidate for a tri-mode – and the one to Taunton. Filton Jcn to Taunton is 50 miles, so should also be batteryfiable.

        Comment by Peter Robins | June 29, 2019

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