A special train is to be put on to ensure football fans from North Wales can be in Cardiff to cheer on the national team.
The services, which will be run by Arriva Trains Wales, will ensure fans can travel down to the home World Cup qualifiers against Austria and the Republic of Ireland and get back in the same night, without the cost of staying over in the capital or having to drive or take a coach back very late.
Wales are looking to follow up their heroics at Euro 2016 by qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1958, but they need to pick up some crucial victories in their remaining fixtures to remain in contention.
For the Austria match on Saturday, September 2, the train will call at Holyhead, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester and Wrexham before running fast to Cardiff.
Wales will then host the Republic of Ireland on Monday, October 9.
Both matches are scheduled to take place in Cardiff City Stadium with a 7.45pm kick off, meaning they would finish after the last train to North Wales.
But after positive meetings between the Football Association of Wales (FAW), Football Supporters’ Federation Cymru and Arriva Trains Wales, it was confirmed a special charter service would run for both matches.
Lewis Brencher, Arriva Trains Wales’ head of communications, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to offer these trains to fans from North Wales.
“We know getting back from Cardiff after a night match is challenging so to have another option for fans can only be a good thing and we hope it will be really successful.
“This is something FSF Cymru have called for and it's great to be working with them to deliver this. We saw in Euro 2016 that we’re Together, Stronger and we hope to see fans from across Wales cheering the team on to our first World Cup since 1958.”
The special trains have been backed by the Welsh Government.
Tickets for the two specials will be available direct from the FAW on a limited basis.
Lucy Mason, ticketing and membership manager at the FAW, said they regularly met with FSF Cymru to discuss a wide range of Welsh football matters, including transport.
“A regular topic in these discussions was the possibility of a train service between North and South Wales for international matches,” she said.
“Arriva Trains Wales have been proactive in working with the FAW and FSF Cymru to discuss the best possible provision for fans at affordable prices.
“The FAW strive to make international matches as accessible as possible and our meetings with FSF Cymru are vital in achieving this.”
The Austria match on September 2, will see the service pick up from Holyhead at 11am before arriving at 3.16pm to give fans plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere. It will follow the same calling pattern on the way back, arriving into Holyhead at about 3am.
The exact details for the train for the Ireland match are still being finalised, but tickets will also be available on the FAW ticketing page.
A standard price of £45 for adults and £22.50 for concessions has been agreed, with 20 business class places also available for £65 for the Austria game.
See full story in the Free Press