HUNDREDS of students from Powys returning to college in Shrewsbury this week will be facing a much longer journey.

Many would normally travel on the 7.04am Transport for Wales (TfW) train service from Machynlleth, to attend A Level classes and courses such as Geology and Computer Science which are not available in Powys.

But that early TfW service has been temporarily withdrawn - for the foreseeable future - due to the ongoing public safety issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A replacement bus service will be in place instead, starting in Machynlleth at 7.05am taking in Caersws, Newtown and Welshpool along the way, arriving in Shrewsbury at 9am.

That will mean that in some cases, students who live in Machynlleth are facing an almost four-hour round trip to and from their college classes.

TfW has confirmed it is running to a temporary reduced timetable across the whole Wales and Borders network due to coronavirus and the early morning bus service from Machynlleth to Shrewsbury is in place specifically for those attending school.

There will also be a replacement bus service at the same time for members of the general public. Buses will be on stand-by at Shrewsbury in the evening to provide additional capacity if required.

A Transport for Wales spokesperson said: “At Transport for Wales our primary focus is keeping our colleagues and customers safe.

"In line with the rest of the UK rail industry, we have been running to a reduced timetable since 23 March. This has taken into account the latest public health guidance to protect customers and colleagues, and fewer people using our services during this unprecedented period.

“Our timetables have been adapted to best support as many key workers who travel by public transport as possible, while also maintaining the safety of customers and staff and the resilience of our services. We’re slowly phasing in additional rail services as we return towards a full timetable, with more to be added in the coming weeks. We’re continuing to review the timetable based on passenger data, Welsh Government guidelines and changes to the wider UK rail timetable.

“We are fully aligned with Welsh Government advice that people should carefully plan their journeys and avoid travelling at busier times where possible. More information can be found on our website:”