‘We’re no longer living in the 1870s’
Call to improve Sunday rail services:
PEOPLE in the Cynon Valley are losing out on job opportunities because of the lack of rail services on a Sunday, it is claimed.
The Sunday rail service in the valley sees just one train run through Aberdare every two hours.
The issue is so pertinent that Assembly Member Vikki Howells raised it in the Senedd last week, saying time has moved on and services must come up to date.
But Arriva Trains Wales said the company “continually reviews” its service provision and recently added 600 seats to its busiest commuter services and will next year look again at its train plan.
But speaking in the Senedd last week, Ms Howells said: “We’re not living in 1870s Wales any more, where people went to chapel on a Sunday morning and then the rest of the day was a day of rest.
“I’m dealing with casework from constituents who are unable to access job opportunities because of the lack of rail services on a Sunday.”
She also said it was important not to forget bus provision, and that many communities across the Valleys are served by no bus companies at all.
She hoped the proposed South Wales Metro, set to develop light rail across Cardiff and South East Wales, would also include an improvement for those using buses.
“By looking at the Metro procurement solely through the lens of the rail franchise, I think sometimes we miss the opportunity to discuss the importance of bus provision,” she explained.
“I’d welcome some more details on that as well, particularly when we’re looking at raising the living standards of valleys communities.
“Those areas furthest from the jobs market with the highest levels of poverty are usually those areas most geographically removed from the rail network. The importance of the bus provision of the Metro really can’t be overstated.”
She added: “I think it’s absolutely crucial for both rail and bus that we look to drive that aspect of Sunday services.”
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said the Welsh Government is looking to develop a franchise agreement that better suits the needs of people in the Cynon Valley.
He said: “The member is absolutely right. The nature of work and the way of life have both changed in recent decades to the extent that we should now expect public transport services on weekend days to be far better than they were in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I can assure the member that there will be improved services on Sundays, not just in terms of rail services under the new franchise, but also with the work that’s taking place in parallel on reforming bus services.”
Responding to the comments, Mike Tapscott, projects and planning director for Arriva Trains Wales, said: “We continually review our service provision as a way of ensuring that we target where resources are needed most.
“We welcome surveys such as this, which are one of a number of ways in which we gather feedback from communities to help us look at where demand may exist on our network, and where we may be able to increase services where we operate. We recognise the importance of changing work and leisure patterns of travel and always seek to be adaptable to this.
“Our announcement of additional trains in partnership with the Welsh Government, which will be made available to us in the middle of 2018, will provide an opportunity to look again at our train plan and help us understand where there may be opportunities to further improve journey opportunities, and important community feedback such as this will be fed into that process.”
AM Vikki Howells has called for more trains to run in the Cynon Valley on a Sunday