Agenda item

Grand Union Trains: Ian Yeowart, Managing Director


Ian Yeowart, Chief Executive Director, Grand Union Trains (GUT) gave a presentation on the new express rail services between South Wales and London.  These are open access services not specified by the Department of Transport; services successfully introduced in other areas of the UK. 


GUT are aiming initially to introduce, in two stages, a London Paddington to Cardiff service every 2 hours with a journey time of 1 hour 45 mins, with all services calling at Cardiff Parkway and Severn Tunnel Junction. It is planned to introduce an hourly service from May 2023 between Paddington and Llanelli which will provide a fast service to Swansea with a target journey time of 2 hours 30 mins.


With regard to Severn Tunnel Junction, GUT is prepared to invest £5m to improve and increase car parking and passenger facilities to InterCity standard, including increasing staffing levels and opening times from the first to the last train.  Bus and interchange facilities would also be provided and the capability to carry light parcels on board. Severn Tunnel Junction would be used as an arrival and distribution point with deliveries moving around the area using electric vehicles.


Following the presentation, questions were asked as follows:


·         A representative of Transition Chepstow asked if the new build trains will be bi-mode and if so, how this will work at Severn Tunnel Junction.  It was responded that for the first two years the trains will be bi mode hence the termination of service at Cardiff. Thereafter, solutions are being looked into and an answer is expected later this year.

·         A Member referred to car parking and access at Severn Tunnel Junction and expressed the view that passengers were more likely to come from the M48 than the M4 and questioned if any consideration had been given to links from the M48 to Severn Tunnel Junction with appropriate access through Rogiet.  It was confirmed that the M48 has not been considered to date however GUT does not want to put any pressure on the village of Rogiet preferring to develop the south side (subject to planning permission).  There is an open mind and GUT is keen to engage with interested parties who have local knowledge.  Areas other than Rogiet for Park and Ride could include Caerwent.  Grand Union Trains are in discussions with Transport for Wales to ensure a cohesive approach

·         A Group Member put the case for the Magor Station project as a means to relieve the pressure on Severn Tunnel Junction, and reduce traffic in Rogiet and asked for the backing of Grand Union Trains.  It was confirmed that it is planned to keep as much traffic out of the village as possible.  Further discussion was offered outside the meeting, including collaborative meetings with other stakeholders.

·         A representative of Rogiet Community Council and the Governing Body of Rogiet Primary School raised concerns about access to the proposed car park at Station Road, especially at the start and end of the school day, and for people who live on the road.  It was explained that the road is narrow with double yellow lines, and a 20mph zone has yet to be implemented.  Is was questioned if there were plans to utilise the former toll booth area and confirmed that Welsh Government have plans for that land.  GUT share the concerns about the village, and an offer was accepted to discuss the proposals with the Community Council.

·         An explanation was requested about the change from the original decision to introduce an hourly service to a two hourly service.  This was based on discussions with Welsh Government and the requirement to have services travel further west.

·         It was commented that that there are two forms of safety in the western zone (ETCS and legacy ATP) and questioned if there will be a programme to   retrofit GUT trains with western region ATP as has happened with the Great Western Trains.  It was explained that discussions are in hand to ensure the fitment of on board safety devices to provide the same level of safety.

·         In response to a question, it was confirmed that Network Rail would be responsible for the use of the school as an evacuation centre in the event of an emergency.

·         The Group was advised that further questions were welcomed outside of the meeting and could be forwarded for response via the Clerk.


Mr. Yeowart was thanked for his presentation by the Chair.