How Rail Can Enhance the Connectivity of Cardiff…

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Cardiff Breakfast Club
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By Becci Gould, Account Executive, Petersens PR

This morning 102 members of Cardiff’s business community greeted Mark Hopwood, MD of First Great Western to St David’s Hotel and Spa for the monthly Cardiff Breakfast Club meeting.

With no doubt that Mark’s topic of presentation ‘How rail can enhance the connectivity of Cardiff – the future’ was of strong interest to most, if not all, of the audience – the guests of the Cardiff Breakfast Club welcomed Mark with open arms, eagerly awaiting his presentation.

After being introduced as a man who had ‘always worked on the railway’ having worked for a number of  companies including British Rail and Gatwick Express before joining First Great Western in 2008, our expectations were high and Mr Hopwood certainly did not disappoint in preempting and carefully answering our long-held questions.

For example, before allowing us to complain about our railway stations (which appears to be occurring rather frequently with regards to Cardiff Central) Mark reiterated that First Great Western does not own any of the stations in  Wales. However he did explain the importance of Cardiff to the service as an important portal to key business and leisure destinations, in addition to employing skilled resources both here and in Swansea.

Openly admitting that the business service between Cardiff and London has suffered in recent times, Mark explained his plans to get this ‘back on track’ with aims to cut journey time considerably having already extended the number of services running between the two cities from once an hour to every half an hour. Of course the electrified rail service will improve this dramatically, yet Mark explains that by making a series small changes along the line can potentially cut 10 minutes off the journey time making both Cardiff and London more accessible.

However, Mark explained that customers seem generally happy with First Great Western services, the company recently seeing a 23% growth in passenger numbers, with 8.6% growth on the business service between Cardiff and Portsmouth.

Despite such encouraging figures, Mark is determined to do better – pushing his team beyond government targets towards a goal of a ‘right time railway’. Such targets envisage Mark’s idea of a service of investment and improvement –driving First Great Western to overcome current problems such as the time it takes to get through Reading, access to London airports and the engineering works on the Severn Tunnel which frequently cause delays to passengers.

In achieving such goals, Mark explained that First Great Western needs the support of the business community – allowing Cardiff to be not only a successful hub of business but an accessible one too.

We hope the members of the Cardiff business community will take Mark’s message on board, allowing Cardiff to remain on route to success.

For further information on Cardiff Breakfast Club please email Becci Gould on or call 02920549597. 

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