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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 14:59 GMT
Free rural rail hope for elderly
Train
Train services are more effective than buses in some part of Wales
Free rail travel may be made available to pensioners using some rural lines, the assembly government has announced.

Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies said pilot projects would run on rural stretches of the Heart of Wales Line and the Conwy Valley Line.

Free bus travel is already available to pensioners and disabled people with more than 530,000 passes distributed.

Other stretches of railway in rural Wales could be included in the scheme if the trials are successful.

The initiative follows studies which show that rail travel is a more viable and effective in some rural areas than bus services.

The trial will tale place on stretches of the Heart of Wales line, which runs through Powys, and the Conwy Valley line in 2007.

"If these pilots are successful the assembly government would look to extend them next to the Cambrian Coast, Borderlands (Wrexham-Bidston) and Shrewsbury-Chester lines," said Mr Davies.

'Delighted'

Gwynedd councillor Trevor Roberts, who is also chair of Taith, the north Wales consortium of local authorities, called it "really exciting news".

He added: "Those with a bus pass in the rural areas served by the railway will benefit greatly, particularly along the Conwy Valley line between Blaenau Ffestiniog and the coast which I am delighted to say will be one of the first in Wales to benefit."

It was also welcomed by the Association of Community Rail Partnership (Acorp).

"The association has argued that concessionary travel should be available to pensioners and the disabled using not only buses but also community rail services which can often be the sole public transport facility in an area," said Neil Buxton, general manager.

"We are delighted that the assembly government are proposing to support concessionary fares on both road and selected community rail lines.

"We hope that this will set a precedent for the rest of the UK," he added.

Age Concern Cymru's Michael Phillips said he hoped it would be extended to other parts of Wales in the near future.

"Many older people are unable to drive, or have access to the use of a car, and have to rely on public transport to go about their daily business," he said.

"Hopefully, by extending concessionary travel from buses to trains, more older people in Wales will be able to take advantage of this policy."




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"In some rural areas the railway is a more effective form of travel"



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14 Feb 06 |  North West Wales

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