New era for rail services as Transport for Wales takes over £5bn franchise

Rail passengers in Wales are being promised “transformed services” as the Welsh Government takes over a £5bn franchise for the first ever time.

It will be overseen by Transport for Wales (TfW) with joint venture KeolisAmey acting as the new operators of Wales and Borders rail services. Some of the beneficial changes include spending £194m on station improvements, including the building of five new stations, and a deep-cleaning programme of stations starting this December.

Some longer-term pledges to commuters include plans to replace every train that runs on the line at a cost of £800m with the first due to appear in 2021, electrifying the South Wales valleys lines while adding more services and launching the new South Wales Metro over the next 15 years.

KeliosAmey replaces Arriva Trains Wales which decided not to bid for the new contract and brings an end to a 15-year tenure. The new operators have been set performance targets by TfW which say by 2023, 95% of passengers' journeys will take place on new, higher capacity trains.

James Price, chief executive of Transport for Wales, said: “The Transport for Wales brand will start to appear on uniforms, around stations and on trains and posters. Passengers will be welcomed by the same staff, and travel on the same trains on the same routes and timetables – and, importantly, their existing tickets will all still be valid as before. Behind the scenes, lots more positive changes will be starting to happen, and we’ll be keeping passengers informed all the way along.”

Under the changes, TfW is committing to halving the industry standard of 30-minute delay refunds with 15 minutes or more being the measurement from January 2019. A cap on KeolisAmey’s profits will also be ensured so that any additional profit will come back to Transport for Wales and be reinvested in the network.

The week has started with Transport for Wales' branding appearing on staff uniforms, at stations and on some trains, with passengers now able to use a new website and app.

Transport Focus has welcomed the takeover and director David Sidebottom believes passengers will have an improved travel experience over the coming years.

“Passengers tell us that their priorities for the new Wales and Borders railway are reliable services on which they can get a seat and are good value for money,” he said. “Passengers will look forward to seeing the benefits of new trains, additional services and increased capacity. To maintain passengers’ trust, Transport for Wales must clearly communicate when these improvements will be delivered and how passengers might be disrupted by any necessary changes over the coming years. We look forward to working closely with Transport for Wales in helping deliver a new service with passengers’ interests at its heart.”

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