Update on Chepstow Station Footbridge and facilities
The following information was provided to the Committee from Christian Schmidt in his absence.
Chepstow is current served by an irregular ATW service every 1-2 hours and an irregular CrossCountry service every 1-2 hours.
Concerning the local (Wales & Borders / ATW) service, the original Metro proposals suggested that all lines should have a turn-up and go service (max. 15 minute wait) during the day. Given the current usage and infrastructure, this would be overkill and undeliverable, so MCC asked for a regular half-hourly service, increasing to turn-up and go service as demand increases. The briefing on the new Wales & Borders rail franchise included “a consistent 1 train per hour between Cheltenham and Cardiff by December 2022” only, which is obviously very disappointing. When Transport for Wales officials attended a regional cabinet / transport authority briefing on Monday 9 July, and Cllr Bryan Jones asked about this, the answer was that the new franchise will allow Transport for Wales (TfW) to request improved frequencies, and TfW will look at this including funding options. At this point in time it is quite unclear what this actually means and MCC members and officers will continue to raise the issue with TfW.
Concerning the regional Cross-Country (CC) service, it should be noted that CC could withdraw the Chepstow stops if it wishes to do so. There is no requirement to stop in Chepstow. No change is expected in the near future; could not accelerate the service because of timetable issues at Cardiff and Birmingham. However, it is expected that there will be major timetable changes once the new CC franchise starts after 2019, and MCC is currently preparing a response to the UK government’s CC consultation demanding that an hourly service for Chepstow will be written into the franchise specification
Concerning services to/from Bristol, it remains MCC’s ambition to see an experimental 2 trains per day direct service from Lydney/Chepstow to Bristol (reversing at STJ, am to Bristol, pm back). This is supported by Gloucester CC and fits with the Cardiff Capital Region and the West of England plans for trains between Cardiff and Bristol.
Fares from Chepstow to Cardiff are substantially higher than from other places within the Cardiff Capital Region of equivalent distance. The briefing on the new Wales & Borders rail franchise contains a commitment to flatten (i.e. reduce) fares from the Heads of the Valleys. At this point it is unclear whether this includes Chepstow. (TfW have been asked.)
Chepstow station facilities:
KeolisAmey’s winning bid for the franchise contained a proposals for “KA and MCC undertake to provide joint funding to develop and implement (KA - £300,000)
· The station being made fully accessible for passengers with reduced mobility
· The construction of a new Park-and-Ride car park
· The creation of a new bus interchange at the station forecourt”
We do not know yet in detail what has been accepted by TfW, though the briefing on the new Wales & Borders rail franchise included Chepstow in a list of stations with the comment of “facilities for tourists and coach/bus interchange“