Travelling between Llandeilo and Swansea on a newly re-furbished train (one of eight of this type being refurbished as part of a broader Welsh Assembly Government £7.5 million rail improvement programme) Mr Jones will be raising awareness of the fact that Cerdyn Cymru pass holders will be able to benefit from free rail travel on the Heart of Wales line for the autumn and winter.
The concessionary fares pilot scheme on the Heart of Wales line – which saw 115,000 users last year - restarted at the beginning of October (3 October) for eligible Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Powys passholders.
Said Mr Jones
“The concessionary rural rail scheme continues to be very popular – particularly with pensioners without a car, those that feel isolated due to a lack of available bus service and those with a low income from their pension.
“This One Wales Commitment has demonstrated that free rail travel can address key policy objectives including increasing the use of public transport, decreasing private car use, reducing rural isolation and strengthening rural communities."
Concessionary fares will also continue on the Borderlands and Conwy Valley lines while the Cambrian Coast Rail Scheme also restarted at the beginning of October for eligible Gwynedd pass holders.
The scheme will continue until 27 March 2011 on the Heart of Wales and Cambrian Coast Lines and for a further 12 months until the end of September 2011 on the Borderlands and Conwy Valley Lines.
An independent evaluation report of the scheme completed by the Wales Transport Research Centre revealed that free rail travel is changing travel behaviour and reducing car use – with 74% of survey respondents stating that they now use the train more often as a result of the scheme.
In addition to the positive impact free rail travel can make to people’s lives the report also revealed that increased use of rail travel has generated increased spending which in turn has a significant benefit on the rural economy – with most passengers spending £50 during their trips in shops, on food and drink and visiting local leisure venues.
A total of 97,181 free rail journeys were made in Wales in 2009/10 – nearly 23,000 of them on the Heart of Wales Line.