South West Wales

Carmarthenshire council scraps half-price rail travel

Train at Llanwrda station, Carmarthenshire
Image caption Elderly and disabled people have enjoyed half price rail travel in Carmarthenshire

Rail users in west Wales have voiced concern at the end of half-price travel concessions on local trains.

Carmarthenshire council has agreed with Arriva Train Wales to remove the benefit for people aged over 60 and others with certain disabilities.

It allowed them half-price travel between Swansea and Pembroke and on the Heart of Wales line.

The council said it made the decision reluctantly in tough economic times, while Arriva declined to comment.

Rail volunteer Hywel Jones said the elderly were "going to feel the pinch" in a measure saving £60,000 a year.

The Carmarthenshire pass has given people aged over 60 or with certain disabilities the right to half-price standard single or day return fares on rail journeys operating within the county.

It has also been valid on local train services to and from Swansea, Pembrokeshire and Llandrindod Wells, provided the journey began or ended in Carmarthenshire.

'Vulnerable hit'

Mr Jones, a rail user and a volunteer at Llanwrda station in the Tywi valley, said he was shocked by the decision.

He accepted the need for councils to save money, but claimed the end of the rail concession would hit vulnerable people hard.

"A lot of elderly people depend on the rail service and a lot of people on low income can't afford a car, or maybe they're not allowed to drive because of illnesses or some disability," he said.

"They depend on the trains a great deal."

Mr Jones cited the case of a man from Llandeilo who had made 32 trips to Singleton Hospital, Swansea, in seven weeks for cancer treatment who had benefitted from half price rail travel.

He said he would approach the Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards to ask the council to think again.

"They should consider the elderly people - those are the ones that are obviously going to feel the pinch," he said.

Carmarthenshire council said it was one of the very few authorities offering concessionary rail travel, in addition to the Welsh Assembly Government's travel pass giving free local bus travel throughout Wales to elderly and disabled people.

A council spokesman said the decision to remove the rail concession from 30 April "was taken reluctantly and his been driven by the tough economic constraints placed on the authority in these austere times".

Free bus travel was unaffected, he added.

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