End of line as ar­riva hands over to new train com­pany

South Wales Echo - - News - MAR­CUS HUGHES Re­porter mar­cus.hughes@waleson­line.co.uk

RAIL pas­sen­gers are brac­ing them­selves as Ar­riva Trains Wales hands over the keys to new op­er­a­tors this week­end.

Trans­port for Wales and Ke­o­lis Amey will take over op­er­a­tion of the Wales and Bor­ders fran­chise to­mor­row. The com­pany, branded as Trans­port for Wales Rail Ser­vices, an­nounced plans for a se­ries of im­prove­ment to ser­vices in com­ing years when Ke­o­lis Amey were awarded the fran­chise in May.

They said that by 2023, 95% of pas­sen­ger jour­neys will take place on new, higher ca­pac­ity trains with 285 more ser­vices each week­day.

Dur­ing Ar­riva Trains Wales’ 15-year stew­ard­ship of Wales’ com­muter ser­vices there have been huge in­creases in pas­sen­ger num­bers while the na­tion’s rolling stock has aged.

Pas­sen­gers at Queen Street Sta­tion in Cardiff shared their views on rail ser­vices with the South Wales Echo.

Ciaran Fitzger­ald, 23, is a stu­dent at the Univer­sity of South Wales and uses the ser­vice for his daily com­mute be­tween Cardiff Cen­tral and Queen Street sta­tions.

“Some­times it is dif­fi­cult to get a seat and stand­ing can be quite dif­fi­cult be­cause of my dis­abil­ity – I have cere­bral palsy,” Ciaran said.

“I haven’t seen any of the plans but if they can de­crease the amount of over-crowd­ing and put on more car­riages that would be great.”

Ciaran said staff were al­ways help­ful and he hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced dif­fi­cul­ties with dis­abled ac­cess at sta­tions.

He added: “There have been quite a few de­lays re­cently so if that could be refined that would be an im­prove­ment.”

Stephen Jenk­ins, 58, takes the train from Lis­vane and Thorn­hill sta­tion about three times a week, usu­ally out­side peak times.

He said he rarely has trou­ble with over-crowded or late ser­vices, but ad­mit­ted he is for­tu­nate not to have to catch the train dur­ing rush hour.

“My son tells me it is ab­so­lutely crowded ev­ery day and he can never get a seat and he uses it ev­ery day at peak times,” Mr Jenk­ins said.

“Ca­pac­ity should in­crease es­pe­cially for rugby and foot­ball in­ter­na­tion­als and stuff like that. That is a spe­cial­ist thing re­ally but you can imag­ine how bad it gets.”

Trans­port for Wales Rail Ser­vices an­nounced that al­most all of its in­her­ited fleet is due to be re­placed by 2023, with half of the new trains man­u­fac­tured by CAF at its fac­tory in Llan­wern, New­port.

The cur­rent rolling stock has been widely crit­i­cised for be­ing out of date and in a poor state of re­pair.

Caitlin Perry, 21, from Barry, said: “It’s not so much the qual­ity of the trains but they are al­ways so dirty and messy – empty wrap­pers on the floor and stuff like that.

“If that was im­proved it would make it gen­er­ally more pleas­ant.”

Trans­port for Wales chief ex­ec­u­tive James Price said pas­sen­gers can ex­pect their rail ser­vice to be trans­formed within five years.

“The way in which we have planned the im­prove­ments pro­gramme means that the ser­vice will be un­recog­nis­ably bet­ter for peo­ple by 2025,” he said.

“Im­por­tantly, we will be op­er­at­ing a model that in­cen­tivises the op­er­a­tor of Trans­port for Wales Rail Ser­vices to grow the ser­vice but does not al­low ex­ces­sively high profits to be made.

“A cap will en­sure that any ad­di­tional profit will come back into Trans­port for Wales to be rein­vested in trans­port.

“We re­ally are putting our money where our mouth is. Rather than the in­dus­try stan­dard of 30-minute de­lay re­pay, there will be a new com­mit­ment to re­funds for de­lays of 15 min­utes or more from Jan­uary 2019. That jour­ney starts on Sun­day.”

■ More – pages 26&27

AN­DREW JAMES

Ar­riva Trains Wales leaves Wales this week­end

An im­age of pro­posed new trains which will re­place the cur­rent fleet by 2023

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