‘We’re no longer liv­ing in the 1870s’

Call to im­prove Sun­day rail ser­vices:

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - TOM HOUGHTON tom.houghton@waleson­line.co.uk

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.