On my mind

Llanelli Star - - LETTERS - With Gra­ham Davies ■ Fol­low Gra­ham on Twit­[email protected]

I LOVE trains. De­spite the ab­sence of the mael­strom of steam and soot of former times there is noth­ing more im­pres­sive than the way a train can still tri­umphantly en­ter a sta­tion and over­power it with its pres­ence or the odour of diesel and hot steel.

The car is a poor, self­ind­ul­gent, al­ter­na­tive to the train’s hyp­notic rhythm and un­pre­dictable change of pace, and to the ap­pre­hen­sion and tur­bu­lence of the tun­nel.

For Robert Louis Steven­son the train was: “Faster than fairies, faster than witches, bridges and houses, hedges and ditches, And charg­ing along like troops in a bat­tle, All through the mead­ows the horses and cat­tle…”

Then last week the ro­mance was shat­tered as two Ly­cras ran out of tar­mac and wheeled their bikes into the same car­riage, the air con­di­tion­ing packed in, the late train be­came even later, stand­ing room only and the steam­ing ser­vice was ter­mi­nated twenty min­utes from my des­ti­na­tion.

Fol­low­ing the train wreck of a con­tract in 2003, ar­ranged by the De­part­ment of Trans­port and in­her­ited by Welsh Govern­ment, when no al­lowance was made for in­creased pas­sen­gers and the need for ex­tra coaches, Ke­olisAmey, the new fran­chise holder for Wales and the bor­ders, have a lot to do to turn around the sit­u­a­tion.

Their plans to im­prove ser­vices are com­pre­hen­sive and they come with plenty of jobs and £800 mil­lion pounds of investment.

Cer­tainly they need to be given time and un­der­stand­ing in the short term, but in the long term there will be no ex­cuse for Ke­o­lis, a French/Cana­dian rail­way op­er­a­tor, and Amey, an in­fra­struc­ture con­sul­tancy and a sub­sidiary of Span­ish com­pany Fer­rovial, if they do not bring Welsh rail­ways up to the stan­dard of the rest of Europe – or at least learn how to turn on the air con.

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