Several Welsh stations will be served by no trains at all from next week due to the length of their platforms raising social distancing concerns.
Train stations found to have platforms too short or too curved to accommodate the opening of two train doors will be out of use as part of the new safety measures, Transport for Wales (TFW) has announced.
The move means that from Monday, July 6, TFW services will no longer call at the stations in Llanfairpwll, Valley and Conwy.
Also affected are Gilfach Fargoed on the Rhumney line, Prees, Hopton Heath and Yorton in Shropshire, Sugar Loaf in Powys, and Earlestown on Merseyside.
Explaining the move, which they say will be in effect for “a short period of time”, a Transport for Wales spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that risk assessments found that two train doors had to be in operation to allow a safe distance between customers and conductors.
On the North Wales Main Line, however, the move means that no trains at all will stop for the time being at Valley, Llanfairpwll or Conwy stations, which are not served by Avanti West Coast services.
The move has been criticised by councillors in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – the longest place name in Europe – who claim that the alternative will mean passengers being forced onto buses to catch rail services from Bangor.
Cllr Alun Mummery, who sits on both the community and county councils, said: “In our view, the move is quite ridiculous when you consider that services, albeit limited, have been running through Llanfair all through the pandemic.
“Yet now that restrictions are slowly being lifted, we’re told that trains will no longer stop here.
“This will force many people to catch the bus to Bangor where they’ll stand or sit in a bus stop much more confined than any platform, only to then sit in a constrained bus which have much fewer empty seats than most train services.
“It makes no sense to be honest.”
Cllr Gwilym O Jones said there were similar concerns in Valley, but added that he accepted the difficulties facing TFW and had invited a representative to address the local community council.
The island’s Senedd Member, Rhun ap Iorwerth, added: “Safety is vitally important of course, but to say that the only safety measure possible is to effectively stop the service for many rail users seems unreasonable to me.
“Rail links to and from these Anglesey stations are essential for many users including key workers, who have kept Wales going throughout this pandemic.
“Transport for Wales tell me they are looking into delivering rail replacement services, but at the very least these services should be in place and running efficiently before taking away the rail service.”
A TFW spokesperson said: “The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority and over the past few weeks we’ve introduced additional safety measures at our stations and on our trains.
“We’ve undertaken risk assessments at all stations across the Wales and Borders network and in order to maintain a safe distance between the conductor and customers, we need to be able to operate two train doors.
” Unfortunately, due to the short platform length (and curvature of the platform in some cases), this is not possible at these stations.
“These small changes to our timetable are only for a short period of time as we continue to deal with challenges presented by covid19 and we’d like to thank all our customers for their patience and understanding.
“We’d like to reinforce our message that people should only use public transport for essential travel and where there are no other travel alternatives, and also highlight our five main principles for public transport users – stay safe, avoid busy periods, follow our latest advice, exercise while you travel and respect our staff and other passengers at all times.”