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Train cancellations hit Pembrokeshire travellers

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MORE than a quarter of trains in Wales are currently out of service, rail bosses admitted in newspaper adverts apologising to passengers this week.

Transport for Wales (TfW) and Network Rail took out full page ads in the Western Mail, South Wales Echo and Daily Post on Tuesday (Nov 20).

They said 36 of Wales’ 127 trains are being repaired – causing delays and cancellations in recent weeks.

The cancellations have spread to Pembrokeshire where many services have been cancelled.

The 7.05 train Milford to Manchester had become (at least for a while) the 7.05 to Cardiff, waiting 20 minutes at Swansea and taking the path of a slow train at Swansea, terminating at Cardiff 35 minutes later than timetabled, the connection to London arriving half an hour later, and stations to Manchester requiring a change at Cardiff and arrival a whole hour later than timetabled. A traveller from Pembroke also advised of problems on that line.

The latest information on Wednesday (Nov 21) was that the following trains from Milford Haven were cancelled:  09:08, 11:08, 13:08, 15:08 and 17:11 due to more trains than usual needing repairs at the same time.

In other words, five trains to Manchester were being cancelled, and Milford would see no trains between 7.08 and 19.12.

The real-time situation also appears to be worse than the advertised cancellations, according to website realtimetrains.co.uk

The Herald further understands that all trains from Pembroke Dock run only to Carmarthen, where a change is required, to a train which then fails to make the London Connection at Swansea. Coming back from London, your connection will not be waiting at Swansea, the next train to Carmarthen, where a further change will be needed, will ensure that you are two hours late getting home.

Fishguard has had a cancellation too. Nothing is said about replacement bus services.

One traveller told this newspaper: “This is totally unacceptable. Surely if more trains than usual need repairs at the same time, some more trains can be hired from a rolling stock company meanwhile.

“And it is not enough to apologise that trains won’t run. If I still have a journey to make and have planned it round the timetable, I want to know how TfW will get me there. And I subscribe to journey check. Had I not, I could well have turned up at the station for my train to find it not there.

“Is this how our government wants the new franchise to run?”

This week, Labour Government’s Transport Secretary refused to apologise to commuters across South Wales Central who’ve recently endured chaos, delays and cancellations on the Welsh rail network.

In response to South Wales Central AM, Andrew RT Davies, Ken Skates declined the opportunity to apologise and also refused to answer why additional trains promised back in July 2017 by the Welsh Government had yet to materialise.

The Cabinet Secretary also refused to deny that over half of Wales’ rolling train stock is currently out of action during a topical question at the National Assembly.

Commenting on the shambles, South Wales Central, Andrew RT Davies AM, said: “This is another shambles from the Welsh Labour Government and it’s appalling that the Transport Secretary couldn’t muster one apologetic word to commuters across South Wales who’ve had to endure this chaos.

“Confidence in the Welsh Labour Government’s ability to deliver on transport and infrastructure is reaching an all-time low and his failure to apologise or answer straightforward questions this afternoon speaks volumes.

“Passengers are still waiting for new trains promised some 16 months ago and ahead of what could be a testing winter period, the lack of answers from the Cabinet Secretary indicates further chaos can be expected on the rail network.

“This is clearly a very difficult start for Transport for Wales and whilst immediate improvements were always unlikely, the fact the day-to-day management of services is deteriorating does not bode well for future promises.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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