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Rail passengers reminded to check before travelling

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PASSENGERS are being urged to check before they travel ahead of essential modernisation work between Cardiff and Newport this February.

The work forms part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan for Wales, to enable Great Western Railway’s new fleet of Intercity Express Trains to run between London and Cardiff on electricity, improving journeys for passengers.

Services between Cardiff and Newport will be reduced by an average of two trains an hour from February 12-25, with rail replacement buses operating for all services between Cardiff Central and Newport stations on February 17, 18 and 25.

Between February 12 and 25, engineers will be preparing the stretch of railway between the two cities for the equipment needed to power GWR’s new Intercity Express Trains, which will run on electricity from London to Cardiff. The work being delivered will include piling and post installation.

Cardiff residents are also reminded that Splott Road Bridge will be closed from February 4 – 27.

The original bridge, which connects Splott to Adamsdown, is too low to accommodate the overhead line equipment needed for trains running on electricity and, at 117 years old, the bridge has reached the end of its lifespan. It is being replaced with a new and improved structure, raised to give clearance for trains running on electricity, and strengthened to withstand modern city centre traffic.

Modernising the railway between London and Cardiff will provide more seats and better on-board facilities for passengers travelling between the two capital cities and beyond, with the new trains running between Cardiff and Swansea on diesel.

Steve Keighley, programme manager for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, said: “The new Intercity Express Trains, which run on both electric and diesel, will provide extra seats and better on-board facilities for thousands of passengers. We are working closely with our partners at Arriva Trains Wales and Great Western Railway to make sure people can still get where they need to be with a bus replacement service in operation during this essential upgrade work.

“We would like to thank passengers and residents for their patience during this improvement work and urge people to check before travelling.”

Bethan Jelfs, customer services director for Arriva Trains Wales said: “Investing in our infrastructure here in south Wales is vital to the long term future of our railway.

“We have been working closely with our partners in Network Rail to ensure as few passenger journeys as possible were affected by this.

“The work at Splott Road Bridge will mean some service changes between Cardiff and Newport and we would urge all our customers to check their journeys ahead of travelling.”

GWR development manager Wales, Mark Young man said: “New Intercity Express Trains have been operating between South Wales and London Paddington, since last October, providing as much as 24% more seats than the trains they have replaced.

“The electrification of the line between Cardiff and London will allow us to deliver the full benefit of these new trains, with more frequent, and quicker, journeys.”

More detail on rail services and replacement buses, as well as up to date journey information, can be found via www.nationalrail.co.uk or by calling Travel Line Cymru on 0800 464 0000.

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4.4 magnitude earthquake felt across Wales

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AN earthquake of 4.4 magnitude has been felt across Wales and England this afternoon (Feb 17).

There are numerous reports of the earthquake being felt across west Wales, including Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The earthquake originated near Swansea, where it is was felt strongest, at around 2:30pm.

However, the earthquake was felt across Wales, and many parts of England.

The EMSC, an independent monitor of earthquakes, said: “Latest update of the effects of the #earthquake in #Swansea region. Was felt up to 300 km from epicentre.”

Dyfed-Powys Police received many reports about the incident, but said that there was no need for concern, and that they felt it themselves in their control room.

The police force said: “We are receiving an extremely high call volume reporting some sort of earth tremor in the area – we are receiving reports from across the whole of Wales (we felt it in our control room too!). For now – it is unexplained – but there is nothing to worry about.”

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Does Parc Trostre need a railway station?

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A PETITION has been launched to encourage the creation of a railway station at Parc Trostre – something which it is claimed could help everything from match-day congestion to pollution on Sandy Road.

Parc Trostre, home to a large retail park and near the Scarlets’ ground, can at present only be accessed by road. On match days there have been numerous complaints from residents in the surrounding area about fans parking their cars in residential streets and causing traffic chaos.

The petition, which already has almost 200 signatures, says that Wales has a ‘truly enormous’ transport network which has not moved with the times, and changed to suit the rapid demand and increased population growth.

“We feel there should be changes made not only to the rail network, but to the bus, and road systems to ease congestion and enable safer, simpler commutes for passengers,” it adds.

“We propose to come up with different ways and suggestions to change the transport network in Carmarthenshire – be it the bus, road or rail network. We the people use the network, so we the people should have our say. The lack of busses and trains often leaves communities isolated and closed off for those who don’t drive.

“This petition aims to look at creating a Parc Trostre Railway Station, which would assist in solving the already apparent problem with parking and congestion, enabling staff and employees to commute easier and from further afield and encourage growth and stability to a massively popular retail park. Rugby and sport fans can also make use of the railway station, by travelling in from afar for games and matches at the iconic Parc y Scarlets Stadium.

“Llanelli is Carmarthenshire’s Largest town with a rapidly growing population of over 49,000 people! Parc Trostre Retail park is a bustling modern retail park with an already apparent parking and congestion problem. The bus network to the park is poor, and really only serves Llanelli and Swansea directions.

“We feel, a railway station at track level underneath the Piano Bridge on Lower Trostre Road would be a real tangible suggestion to serve the retail park and Morfa areas of Llanelli. It’s a 30 minute walk from Llanelli Train Station to Trostre. Imagine that for employees, walking in the dark, in the winter to catch a train to Kidwelly, Burry Port, Carmarthen etc (busses after about 18:30 are non existent in that direction)… The current rail station does NOT cater for the out of town shopping areas and sports stadium.

“Our Rail timetable is already relatively good, with some of the earliest of trains starting at 04:55 (Carmarthen to Llanelli) and the latest of trains at around 23:35 (Llanelli to Carmarthen) The busses just don’t do this – and don’t operate at these times! This makes employees who don’t drive in Trostre’s life’s impossible – unless there willing to brave the walk from the existing train station to Trostre, or finish around the time of a bus!

“This would be a safer, simpler way of travel for employees, punters and sports fans, who could walk over to piano bridge, down steps, and onto the platform. It doesn’t need to be anything special – just a concrete platform, some shelters and some lights! The line already runs past Trostre, so why not make the most of it!

“We are confident this would somewhat aid congestion on the Sandy Road, as commuters could be encouraged to catch the train too.

“We call on isolated employees, frustrated drivers, sports fans and anyone interested in the economic growth of Llanelli to sign this petition. We are confident this would be a relatively low investment for the rail operating companies with a high return on passenger journeys.”

The petition coincides with increased interest in public transport provision in the area, following the launch of Professor Barry’s proposal for a Swansea Bay Metro last year. A map of these plans shows that Trostre would be considered as a stop on two of the lines.

However, it is worth noting that even if the £1bn plans were approved, it would be at least a decade before work were completed.

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School in shock after death of pupil

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TRAGEDY struck a Llanelli primary school last week when a four-year-old child lost his life to meningitis.

The child was referred to hospital with meningococcal septicaemia on Thursday (Feb 8), but sadly passed away on the same day.

Public health experts have confirmed that there is no risk to other pupils at Bigyn Primary School.

A page has been set up in memory of the youngster, who we are not identifying at this time at the request of the parents, on Facebook.

Head teacher of Bigyn Primary School Marc C. Howells told The Herald that the whole school was ‘absolutely devastated’.

“We are all in shock as it happened so quickly. Doctors from Public Health Wales have spoken to parents to reassure them that their own children are safe. Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time,” he added.

A person connected with the school, who did not wish to be named, said that the child was ‘a lovely little boy’.

“He was just four-years-old and so cheerful,” they explained. “It was a sombre week last week as the school also suffered a robbery which included damage to classrooms and the staff room with part of the ceilings destroyed, lots of electrical items were stolen including tablets.

“This doesn’t make a difference as insurance covers it and items can be replaced. You can’t replace a child though. My heart goes out to the family and he’ll be missed, what a bubbly little lad.”

Public Health Wales consultant Sion Lingard said: “We are aware of the death of a Llanelli child who had meningococcal septicaemia. There is no wider public health risk. We are working with the child’s school and the local health board to provide information and advice to parents.

“Meningococcal septicaemia disease can affect anyone at any time and it is therefore important to be aware of the symptoms of the disease, which include headache, fever, drowsiness, vomiting, neck stiffness and possibly a red rash which doesn’t fade when pressed with a glass tumbler.”
County Councillor for the Bigyn Ward Jeff Edmunds said: “This is such a sad time and for one so young. The community is currently in a state of shock. I know the family and understandably they’re devastated.”

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