Saturday’s rugby confrontation between England and Wales is a grudge match – and the train scheduling suggests a grudge against away fans.
Anyone consulting the rail timetable for post-match trains from Twickenham to Cardiff faces an unappetising choice: leaving halfway through the second half and arriving in the Welsh capital shortly after midnight, or seeing the game through to full time and then spending all night getting home.
The Pool A match kicks off at 8pm, and is likely to finish around 9.30pm – 20 minutes after the last feasible departure from Twickenham station to reach Wales that night.
The recommended route is a one-hour train ride from Twickenham to Reading for an onward connection on the Great Western Railway. Just after midnight, the last westbound express departs from here – but only as far as Bristol Temple Meads. Fans are advised to spend seven-and-a-half hours at the station before boarding the first train on Sunday morning to Cardiff Central, where they arrive shortly before 10am.
The same train operator infuriated fans heading to the Wales-Ireland game last Saturday in Cardiff.
John Redmond was one of hundreds of passengers stranded at Bristol Parkway station for promised trains to the Welsh capital that did not materialise. “It is hard to conceive that the rail company had any type of plan going on here.” he told The Independent.
A spokesman for the train operator, GWR, said: “Hundreds of additional trains, and hundreds of thousands of additional seats will run over the course of the tournament. Data from the sale of match tickets indicates less than 2 per cent of tickets for the England v Wales match have been sold in Wales.
“Most fans from Wales are likely to choose to travel by alternative means, or stay overnight.”