A CAMPAIGN has been launched calling on transport officials to reverse a decision which will see some communities in Wrexham lose their hourly rail service.

Transport for Wales recently announced plans to amend the timetable for the Chester to Shrewsbury rail line, which will result in trains only calling at stations in Chirk and Ruabon once every two hours from December.

It has been met with anger from members of the Chester Shrewsbury Rail Partnership, who said the proposed changes had been made without consultation to allow a faster service between Cardiff and Holyhead.

Wrexham Council’s lead member for transport David A Bithell has now launched a petition to force rail bosses to overturn the decision, which will also impact passengers over the border in Gobowen.

It has already attracted more than 500 signatures from disgruntled travellers, who have branded the move as “unacceptable”.

Cllr Bithell said it was a backwards step at a time when passenger numbers across the county are increasing.

The Leader:

Cllr David Bithell

He said: “These faster services will pass local stations without stopping.

“There was no consultation with key stakeholders on these changes whatsoever.

“Train services are important to residents and the local economy given the Welsh Government’s decision to declare a climate emergency.

“Reducing carbon emissions and investing in the rail network is critical to meet carbon emission targets by 2030.

“This line has increased passenger numbers at each of the stations year on year of up to 20 per cent over the last five years and continues to grow.”

The draft timetable published by Transport for Wales, which took over the franchise for Wales towards the end of last year, shows the new northbound service leaving Shrewsbury at 9.01am will only stop at Wrexham on the way to Chester, bypassing Gobowen, Chirk and Ruabon.

Meanwhile, the 9.25am service from Shrewsbury to Chester which currently calls at all stations will be withdrawn, meaning passengers could be forced to wait up to two hours for the next northbound train.

Members of the rail partnership said the service was an important one as the first off-peak train of the day, allowing people to access cheaper fares.

On the return journey, the 2.20pm train from Chester will again miss the three stations.

A Transport for Wales spokesman confirmed the decision had been made to reduce journey times between Cardiff and Holyhead, but added solutions were being explored for those affected.

He said: “We have made a commitment to introduce a new Cardiff-Holyhead service departing from Cardiff Central with a total journey time of under 4 hours 30 minutes, using better trains to provide an improved service for our customers.

“To achieve this we are not currently able to accommodate the stops between Shrewsbury and Chester from the December timetable change, due to the impact it will have on other existing services in the area at that time in the morning.

“However, we’re investigating potential solutions to this.

“We’re engaging with local stakeholders to resolve these issues and we’ll provide more details on this soon.”