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Independent rail firm bids to launch as rival to Great Western 



An independent rail firm is hoping to launch a rival train service in Wales which they say will slash journey times between Carmarthen and London. Grand Union Trains is making a fresh bid to introduce an initial service in both directions between Cardiff and London on the existing Great Western line.

The company believes the move will “create passenger choice” and increase the number of trains available, with the hope that the service can be extended west in south Wales towards Carmarthen.

The plans will also see the creation of a new station at Felindre, near the M4, and bypass Swansea train station altogether, cutting travel time for those travelling to or from Carmarthen and Llanelli, while the new station will also be home to a park and ride facility for around 500 vehicles.

The company wants to start the Cardiff to London service as early as May next year, before extending it to include Llanelli and Carmarthen (where the service will terminate) in time for May 2025. A spokesman for Grand Union Trains said: “As our entry into the UK rail market, we are proposing to initially establish a service in both directions along the Cardiff to London route on the Great Western Main Line.

“This service will create passenger choice where there is currently none, increase service frequency and open up new journey opportunities, providing improved connectivity for south Wales. The initial service is planned to start in 2023 with calling points of Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway, then express to London Paddington.

“It will also stop at Cardiff Parkway when it opens. Investment in Severn Tunnel Junction station is also planned to provide much improved passenger facilities and to allow direct access from the adjacent M4 motorway. When new build bi-mode trains are delivered, services will extend beyond Cardiff to Carmarthen calling only at Felindre (new station), Llanelli and Carmarthen.”

According to Trainline, there are approximately 37 train services a day between Cardiff and London operated by Great Western Railway, with an average journey time of two hours and 19 minutes. There is only one direct train between Carmarthen and London each day, with an average journey time of four hours and eight minutes.

Grand Union Trains has said it will be able to cut journey times by 20 minutes by not going into the centre of Swansea. The company, which hopes to create around 135 jobs, claims it is different to other rail operators, with a spokesman adding: “The current system of running railways in the UK needs to change – the standard, long running franchise model is no longer delivering for rail-users or taxpayers. Because Grand Union is independently owned and relies on ticket sales to operate, it will do things differently, continuously seeking ways to improve and innovate to serve the needs of its customers.

“We will drive value for money for passengers and taxpayers by providing more choice for rail-users, as well as providing a more personal, customer-focussed train service, responsive to passengers on safety, price transparency, improved connectivity and the whole journey experience. We will strive to set new standards for others to follow, helping to drive up the quality for rail services in the UK.”

Grand Union Trains has previously attempted to introduce a rail service to offer an alternative to Great Western Railway, but an application was rejected by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) last March because of risks that it could have cost millions to the UK Department for Transport. A spokesman for ORR said at the time: “After careful consideration we have decided not to approve Grand Union Trains’ application. At this time, and taking account of the pandemic’s impact on railway finances, we consider the passenger benefits would not outweigh the significant negative impact on public funds that this might have.”

However, Grand Union Trains vowed to fight the decision and have now shared a new proposal with the industry. Once a consultation period has concluded in early June the company is expected to formally submit the new application to ORR in the hope that its service from Cardiff to London could begin operating in 2023. A spokesman for ORR said: “We have not yet received an application for new services by Grand Union Trains. We are aware the company is consulting with the industry and when we receive Grand Union Trains’ application we will review it in line with our usual criteria.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities



WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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New recycling facility opens for Carmarthenshire businesses



A new commercial waste recycling centre located in Nantycaws has been launched today (Monday October 31) by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with CWM Environmental Ltd.

Located next to Nantycaws Household Waste Recycling Centre, the new facility will focus on providing an outlet for businesses in Carmarthenshire to recycle their waste responsibly, with the waste collected at the site recycled or re-used to create sustainable products whenever possible.

The paid for service accepts a range of materials including metal, cardboard, plastic, plasterboard, soil, hardcore, paint, glass, asbestos (double bagged), large white goods including fridges and mixed general waste.

Costs will be competitive to encourage as many businesses as possible to use the facility and will vary depending on the type and amount of waste presented.

A valid waste carrier’s certificate and waste transfer note will be required to use the site.

Cllr Edward Thomas, Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services said: “We hope to significantly increase the amount of waste being recycled from businesses in Carmarthenshire thanks to the introduction of this new recycling centre in Nantycaws”.

“Our long-term ambition is to change the perception of recycling for businesses by supporting them to recycle as much as possible. We want to promote responsible waste practices in the county and minimise the levels of business waste being presented at our household waste recycling centres, which has risen in recent months.

The new commercial recycling centre will help to achieve Carmarthenshire’s ambition of delivering a circular economy throughout the county as well as becoming a leader in recycling and re-use within Wales.

For more information visit the recycling section of the Council’s website –

A circular economy focuses on eliminating waste by cutting down on throw away consumption and turning materials that would have previously been sent to landfill into a valuable resource.

This project has been funded through Welsh Government’s Circular Economy fund.

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National Botanic Garden of Wales welcomes new director



Dr Lucy Sutherland is the new Director of the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

She has joined the Welsh institution from her role as a strategic consultant to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust which manages the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden and the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

She started in her new job on Monday October 24.

Dr Sutherland said: “It is an exciting and rare chance to lead a relatively young botanic garden through its next phase of maturity.

“It is also a unique opportunity at a time when the global population is facing multiple crises and there is growing ambition and support for addressing climate change and continuing efforts towards biodiversity conservation and a sustainable future.”

Dr Sutherland sees the National Botanic Garden of Wales as “continuing to have a critical role in this agenda.”

She is an Honorary Professor at the University of Adelaide and was previously the Director of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium in South Australia, Acting Director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the National Co-ordinator of the Australian Seed Bank Partnership.

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