Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Sunday, 6 September 2009 16:21 UK

Aberystwyth-London route proposed

Arriva Trains Wales carriage
The last direct Aberystwyth to London train service stopped 18 years ago

Arriva Trains Wales has submitted a proposal for a new direct train service between Aberystwyth and London Marylebone station.

The company hopes to run two services a day, restoring a link with the UK capital which was withdrawn in 1991.

The service would run via Shrewsbury and would use some of the same stations as the Wrexham and Shropshire (W&S)service to Marylebone.

W&S has expressed fears a rival service could put it out of business.

In April, Virgin trains dropped plans to run a competing service between Wrexham, Shropshire and London after W&S said it may not survive.

Arriva said it had consulted widely to canvas local views and opinions, claiming the majority supported the proposal.

Ceredigion MP Mark Williams and Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik both expressed support for the plans.

It seems an anomaly that, here in the 21st century, Ceredigion and Montgomeryshire lack a direct link with the British capital
Lembit Opik MP

"In Ceredigion we have now been without a direct London service for 18 years, and this service would both be extremely useful for my constituents, and help attract more tourists by making Ceredigion more accessible," said Mr Williams.

Mr Opik added: "My only real concerns about a direct service from mid Wales to London were the reliability of the service, the quality of the rolling stock and whether their new service would harm the existing Wrexham to Marylebone service.

"However, following a number of meetings and discussions with Arriva trains, they have offered solutions to all three of these issues - by improving the carriages and timing their own trains not to directly compete with what's there already.

"Certainly, it seems an anomaly that, here in the 21st century, Ceredigion and Montgomeryshire lack a direct link with the British capital.

"Arriva are set to put that right, and that's got to be good for the region."

Dee Reynolds, regional strategy director for Tourism Partnership Mid Wales, said a direct London service would provide a real alternative to car use and "dispel the myth that mid Wales is inaccessible".

Location map

W&S marketing director Thomas Ableman has previously said Arriva's plans to "shadow" some of his company's routes was "clearly of concern to us".

He added: "If Arriva's service plans do go ahead, it is highly likely that we will not survive.

"We don't mind fair competition - after all, it is essential for the success of open access operators like us.

"However, we are concerned that Arriva will be using assets funded by the taxpayer to compete with a newly established private operator.

"The trains they will be using are paid for by the taxpayer to run local services in Wales, not to duplicate our route to London."

But Mr Bagshaw refuted this, saying the service between Aberystwyth and London would be run on a "commercial basis".

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