A Town Divided-Is This the Most Frustrating Junction in Wales?
Byline: By Rhodri Clark and Tryst Williams Western Mail
For years it has caused havoc and frustration. Several times an hour, a barrier dissects the small town of Pencoed, bringing life to a temporary halt. And irate motorists yesterday warned that a level crossing dubbed one of the worst in Wales for traffic jams could be about to get even more congested.
The manned crossing at Pencoed, near Bridgend, cuts off one half of the town of 11,000 from the other and frequently leads to tailbacks that bring the community's main road to a standstill.
But drivers and townsfolk now fear that work to control the barriers remotely from Port Talbot, will create further problems for the beleaguered community.
Pencoed mayor Clayton Davies said, 'All the people of Pencoed that I've spoken to are very concerned about this. They're taking a man away from the signal box in Pencoed who can react immediately to any problems.
'CCTV cameras are going to govern the crossing, but electronic equipment does break down. This would cause delays and horrendous traffic problems, because they will have to send someone out from Port Talbot.'
Changes to rail timetables in recent years have increased the number of trains passing Pencoed to three or four passenger trains each way per hour, as well as freight trains.
Not only is the crossing - which serves the main Swansea to London line as well as the Valley line to Maesteg - on a road leading to Pencoed's main residential areas, but it causes particular problems because it is just yards from a junction with the town's main thoroughfare. When the barriers come down, the resulting queues frequently spill over onto the main route through Pencoed.
The new signal work comes at a time when the community - best known for producing a crop of international rugby players including Gavin Henson, Scott Gibbs and Gareth Thomas - has seen its population swell as a result of a massive house-building programme. …