STUDENTS who travel from Gwent to Hereford for college are being crammed into train carriages, with little chance of social distancing.

On some days, the carriages are so full that students have problems getting off the train at their stations, the Argus has been told.

One student, Elisha, said she and her classmates felt "unsafe" due to the crowding and the worry that coronavirus could be spread easily in such confined spaces.

She said train operator Transport for Wales should add extra carriages to the busiest services, when commuters and students are trying to get to work or college.

But this is unlikely to happen any time soon – the train company told us that while it was aware of the problem of crowded services, there are no extra carriages available in the Wales and Borders region. 

This isn't the first time that students travelling to Hereford have complained of crowding on trains.

Last autumn, during the second wave of coronavirus infections, a different student told the Argus travelling there from Gwent had become a "nightmare", and on occasions students had been shuttled instead onto replacement bus services, where there was no social distancing.

Following those complaints, Transport for Wales added an extra morning service on its Cardiff to Hereford route, but one year on, Elisha said things had "gotten worse" and "there is still yet anything to be done" despite "several complaints" to the company.

On some days, the return services to Wales are so busy that students "cannot move" and "it's a struggle to get out at your stop".

Free Press Series: Services between Cardiff and Hereford are frequently busy when students are trying to get to and from classes.Services between Cardiff and Hereford are frequently busy when students are trying to get to and from classes.


On top of the obvious discomfort, there are safety concerns, Elisha said, adding: "We are so close to each other [on the trains], and if someone has Covid we are unaware so could potentially be a contact."

A spokesman for Transport for Wales said the firmd was "working hard to meet the growing demand for services" as people returned to work and education, with popular routes growing "increasingly busy" at peak times.

Anyone travelling by train could find out how busy services were by using Transport for Wales' Capacity Checker tool on the company's website, he added.

But while the firm announced two extra services each way between Cardiff and Holyhead last month, which should help to improve capacity on the Marches network, any extra carriages for the Hereford students seem unlikely at present.

“We are in regular contact with education providers in Hereford to gather feedback and have added capacity to existing services where possible, but all available train carriages are currently in use across the Wales and Borders network," the Transport for Wales spokesman said.