Belfast Telegraph

Travel chaos fears for Wales rugby fans as showdown with England looms

Thousands of Welsh rugby fans could face being stranded in London overnight following their World Cup clash with England because of a lack of trains.

Saturday's Pool A tie at Twickenham is set to finish at 9.30pm leaving Wales supporters not much chance of getting to Paddington Station in half an hour to catch the last service home.

Trains after 10pm only go far as Bristol and Great Western Railway have advised people to make alternative onward travel plans.

And with limited availability on late coaches from London to south Wales fans may have to tough it out overnight, shell out for a hotel or even leave the game early.

News of possible further travel woes has prompted criticism of rail firms - given the transport chaos which has marred the start of the Rugby World Cup 2015.

Great Western Railway has apologised after fans faced long delays following the Scotland-Japan game in Gloucester and Australia's match against Fiji in Cardiff last night.

Wales fan Alun Edwards, 37, from Swansea, said: "It's ridiculous. It's not like the tournament has happened suddenly - they've had five years to plan.

"You don't have to be a sports anorak to know that England v Wales is a massive game - especially at the Rugby World Cup - fans from Wales would want to go.

"The game should have either been played earlier or more trains and buses put on.

"Tickets are expensive enough without having to pay over the odds for a hotel - that's if there are any rooms left."

Several others expressed their anger on Twitter and Facebook.

Rugby fan Justin Lewis wrote: "Great Western Railway express surprise at people needing trains after well-publicised sporting event."

Mother-of-two Angharad Jones added: "Total utter shambles."

Following overcrowding problems at Cardiff Central Station following the Ireland v Canada game, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said it was vital rail firms made improvements.

He said: "Having a transport system which is efficient and works effectively at critical moments of peak demand is vital...we want to show that Wales is open for business and the Rugby World Cup is a fabulous opportunity to showcase Wales and it is passing off very well.

"There are loads and loads of big pluses, but let's fix this."

Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT warned from the off that the rail companies had inadequate capacity and staff in place to deal with the added pressures of the Rugby World Cup and that failure to prepare has led to utter chaos with our members jammed in the front line dealing with angry passengers.

"With dangerous overcrowding it is scandalous that the train companies are raking in a fortune in additional fares while delivering a totally inadequate service. The reality on Britain's railways is that they struggle to cope with routine demand let alone the added pressure of a major sporting event and it is outrageous that the Government let them get away with it."

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said extra staff and trains had been organised for supporters attending Rugby World Cup games.

A spokesman said: "The rail industry has worked with organisers for months to prepare for the Rugby World Cup, carefully assessing the likely demand for services.

"Across the tournament, over 120,000 extra seats will be made available on trains to get fans to and from matches at Twickenham and the Millennium Stadium alone.

"Extra staff are working at stations to help people complete their journeys and we are working closely with the RWC transport team to get information to passengers about the best times to travel."


From Belfast Telegraph