Transport Minister, Edwina Hart, has given the go-ahead to continue with the additional rail services between Fishguard and Carmarthen following a review of the three-year experimental service introduced in 2011.
Feedback from the local community, passengers and business on the extra five return services has been positive and research shows these additional services have brought economic and social benefits.
The Minister has now agreed to extend the service until the end of the current franchise in 2018.
“The extra services between Fishguard and Carmarthen have been very popular with passengers, helped improve access to services and provided a boost for tourism and other local businesses,” she said.
“The results of surveys with passengers, the local community and businesses point to a need for these extra services. These services have made it easier for people to access hospital services, have improved tourism to Pembrokeshire and have helped reduce reliance on cars.”
All stations in Pembrokeshire served by the services have experienced increased usage, with passenger numbers to Fishguard, Goodwick and Fishguard Harbour stations doubling since the introduction of the additional trains in 2011.
More than 60 per cent of passengers surveyed said they would not have been able to make their intended journey without the additional services. Businesses reported that the extra trains helped attract visitors to the area which saw increased usage of the coastal path and ferries to and from Ireland.
Cllr Rob Lewis, Cabinet Member for Highways and Construction said “The announcement by the Minister that the additional rail services to Fishguard are to continue is much welcomed and provides a much needed boost to the County. The additional services have resulted in significant increases in the number of people travelling to the area providing many benefits to the local economy, environment and social inclusion.”
Stephen Hale Chair of the North Pembrokeshire Transport Forum said: “The North Pembrokeshire Transport forum is truly delighted that the enhanced train service to Fishguard and Goodwick is to continue. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to demonstrate the positive benefits to the local economy and community that the additional trains have provided over the past three years.
We are pleased that the enhanced train service will continue to reduce the isolation felt by rural north Pembrokeshire and will work with our partners to ensure these services assist in strengthening the local economy, in particular the important tourist industry.”
Jeremy Martineau Honorary Secretary of the Chamber of Trade and Tourism said: ”This is great news and a sensible decision as we work hard at the regeneration of the area. Being able to travel by train is a boon to local residents, adds a significant opportunity to holiday makers and connects us to the rest of Wales in an environmentally responsible way. We have been pleased to help with the research which has advised the Minister to take the right decision for our entire community.“