New rail ser­vice ‘will have more staff, not less’

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

MORE rail staff will be em­ployed on the new Wales and Bor­ders fran­chise and there will be no move to scrap con­duc­tors, Car­wyn Jones has an­nounced.

The com­mit­ments form part of a deal ne­go­ti­ated with the rail unions, and bro­kered by the Wales TUC.

A state­ment is­sued by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment said: “As a re­sult of a sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased ser­vice pat­tern, in re­sponse to de­mand growth ex­pe­ri­enced in Wales, the ex­pec­ta­tion is there will be more staff, not less, em­ployed on the fran­chise. There are rapid changes in rail­way tech­nol­ogy which can im­prove ser­vice and ef­fi­ciency, but the Welsh Gov­ern­ment recog­nise that pas­sen­gers value per­sonal ser­vice and want this tech­nol­ogy to com­ple­ment staff and not re­place them.

“The Welsh Gov­ern­ment wishes to im­prove safety, se­cu­rity, ser­vice and also ac­ces­si­bil­ity for pas­sen­gers who re­quire as­sis­tance. We there­fore com­mit to keep a safety crit­i­cal con­duc­tor (guard) on all of the Wales and Bor­ders trains and ser­vices, in­clud­ing heavy rail and Metro ser­vices. This com­mit­ment builds on a clear pub­lic re­sponse in our con­sul­ta­tions, where over 90% of re­spon­dents said that a sec­ond mem­ber of staff was either quite im­por­tant or essen­tial in the Wales and Bor­ders re­gion, some­thing Age Cymru said was ‘essen­tial.’ Dis­abil­ity Wales es­ti­mates that dis­abled peo­ple make up more than 20% of the pop­u­la­tion in Wales.

“Heavy rail in­fra­struc­ture for the Wales and Bor­ders fran­chise out­side of core val­leys will re­main with Net­work Rail. The ex­cep­tion to this will be the core Val­leys lines, where re­spon­si­bil­ity would trans­fer to the Welsh Gov­ern­ment through Trans­port for Wales (TFW), sub­ject to an agreed eval­u­a­tion of the as­sets be­tween Net­work Rail and the Welsh Gov­ern­ment.

“There­fore the rail­way in­fra­struc­ture will re­main in pub­lic own­er­ship and af­fected em­ploy­ees will also re­main in the pub­lic sec­tor with Net­work Rail or TFW. In the event of any trans­fer to TFW, pen­sions will be pro­tected and there will be no changes to con­di­tions with­out the agree­ment of the trade unions.

“Any new rolling stock will be main­tained by skilled rail­way peo­ple with the max­i­mum num­ber of staff em­ployed in Wales.

“The Welsh Gov­ern­ment recog­nise the unions de­sire to max­imise job se­cu­rity and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment of ca­ter­ing and clean­ing staff and TFW will en­ter into con­struc­tive di­a­logue with the unions to ex­plore how these can be met. The Welsh Gov­ern­ment also com­mit to work con­struc­tively with the unions around their as­pi­ra­tions for ticket of­fice and sta­tion staff.

“There will be a no com­pul­sory re­dun­dancy guar­an­tee through­out the fran­chise and in re­spect of di­rect sub­con­trac­tors.”

There will be con­tin­ued trade union recog­ni­tion and union rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the Trans­port for Wales board.

If fu­ture legislation al­lows, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s pref­er­ence is for the Wales and Bor­ders ser­vices to be part of a UK na­tional in­te­grated rail­way un­der pub­lic own­er­ship, with re­spon­si­bil­ity and pow­ers for pas­sen­ger ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture de­volved to the Welsh Gov­ern­ment.

Mr Jones said: “Our hard­work­ing rail­way staff are a ma­jor as­set in de­liv­er­ing a mod­ern and safe rail­way and it is right that they are cen­tral to our am­bi­tious plans for the new Wales and Bor­ders Ser­vices and South Wales Metro. I am there­fore de­lighted that we have been able to have such pos­i­tive and con­struc­tive dis­cus­sions with the rail­way trade unions... These are pro­gres­sive com­mit­ments that will mean a bet­ter ser­vice for pas­sen­gers and a bet­ter rail­way in Wales.”

Yes­ter­day, Abel­lio Rail Cymru, Ar­riva Rail Wales, Ke­olisAmey and MTR Cor­po­ra­tion (Cymru) Ltd were in­vited by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to sub­mit fi­nal ten­ders for the next Wales and Bor­ders fran­chise, which will come into force in Oc­to­ber 2018.

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