Published: 16th October 2015
The rugby World Cup will be of much interest to part of the population and of little interest to the rest but it has been affecting rail transport connecting the larger venues such as Twickenham and the Cardiff Millenium stadium.
In fact, the first few games at both locations brought serious overcrowding to trains caused by tens of thousands of fans travelling to and from games. The affected stations, Twickenham and Cardiff Central are already extremely busy with commuters and evening trains loaded pretty much to capacity.
Twickenham services are already full with commuters from Waterloo and the opening World Cup game there introduced huge extra traffic demands. This went well before the game but afterwards, the service was suspended after a passenger fell off a platform there.
But travelling fans from London and other cities to the rugby games have also brought long queues and in essence, a suspension of seat reservations as fans cram onto trains grabbing ay seat they can find.
Extra services have been laid on but the services just could not cope with the demand. Many will say that the rail industry has had sufficient warning, a year, to plan ahead but the popularity of rail travel has meant it has fallen victim to its own success. It is reported that over 40,000 extra passengers used Cardiff Central and Queen Street on each matchday on an already well used Welsh Valleys and main line network
Despite this, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb contacted Great Western and Arriva about was has been described as chaotic scenes around Cardiff on matchdays. Other venues have also seen overcrowding such as Brighton but this was due to a lack of drivers on the Govia Thameslink services. Some trains that did operate were only four carriages instead of eight which compounded the problems. The three train companies serving Cardiff held a review meeting after the first games and said: Every effort is being made to plan and provide safe, effective train services for the World Cup and we regret any inconvenience our customers may experience and ask for their patience.
Because of the review meeting, an enhanced service has been announced by rail companies serving Cardiff on matchdays. The travel advice is as follows:
· Allow plenty of time to get to the ground
· Avoid services closest to kick-off, as these will be extremely busy
· Queuing systems will be at stations – be prepared to have to queue
· There are enough trains to get everyone to and from the matches
· Additional buses provided to support rail services
· Seat reservations will be honoured where possible: But customers are welcome to travel before or after their booked service
Great Western Railway said that “Every train available is being used, additional staff put on, and extra buses are being provided to support the rail service, but stations and trains are expected to be busy”. The next match at Cardiff is on October 17 when New Zealand take-on France at 8pm. Great Western are running 35 additional trains to carry fans to and from the game starting from Paddington at 0745am. Peak demand is expected to be around mid-morning from London.
The next day Ireland play Argentina at the same venue at 1pm and 32 extra trains will be provided starting from Paddington at 0715 and maximum demand anticipated for 0830am.
Trains will be ready to bring fans back after the game with an anticipated 5,000 people being moved within an hour of the end of each game from Cardiff Central towards Bristol and London.
A further 100 buses have also been provided to shuttle passengers between Cardiff and Bristol Parkway designed to reduce queues at Cardiff Central.
Passengers are being warned to travel early and to be prepared to queue to board trains safely and efficiently after matches. Seat reservations will be honoured where possible; if for any reason we are unable to do so, or if you have a reservation and are not able to get to a seat please contact our customer services team for compensation.
We have already taken a total of more than 165,000 fans safely to and from games since the start of the Rugby World Cup tournament - and around 40 per cent of those have travelled on the additional trains and carriages we have put on specifically for the tournament.
Finally, plan for a wait of two hours at Cardiff Central after the game and do not expect to enjoy the normal travel times!