Wales On Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - TYLER MEARS Re­porter tyler.mears@waleson­line.co.uk

HUN­DREDS of peo­ple are plan­ning to at­tend a party to cel­e­brate the end of the Arriva Trains Wales fran­chise next month, ac­cord­ing to a Face­book event.

The event, la­belled “Cel­e­brate the end of Arriva”, in­vites com­muters to gather at Cardiff Cen­tral Rail­way Sta­tion be­tween 10pm and 1am on Sat­ur­day, Oc­to­ber 13.

“The end of an era. The end of Arriva,” it says on the event page. “The clocks are tick­ing. The count­down is on. As­sem­ble at Cen­tral Sta­tion for a na­tional cel­e­bra­tion. BYOB.”

More than 390 peo­ple have con­firmed their at­ten­dance on Face­book, while 1,700 oth­ers have said they are in­ter­ested.

A num­ber of peo­ple have posted to the event page. Sean Beavan wrote: “How’s ev­ery­one get­ting home?” And a re­ply on his post said: “Not with Arriva, I bet.”

Mean­while Gareth Pal­frey said: “Cry me Arriva.”

Ear­lier this year, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment an­nounced it had cho­sen Ke­o­lis-Amey to re­place Ger­manowned Arriva Trains Wales.

A joint ven­ture be­tween French trans­port gi­ant Ke­o­lis and Span­ish in­fra­struc­ture man­age­ment con­sul­tancy Amey, they will run the next 15 year Wales & Bor­ders rail fran­chise, start­ing from Oc­to­ber 14.

Ke­o­lis-Amey will also de­sign and build the next phase of the Metro with elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the core Val­ley Lines where £738m of fund­ing has been set aside and the UK Gov­ern­ment has reaf­firmed its £125m con­tri­bu­tion.

Ke­o­lis UK chief ex­ec­u­tive Alis­tair Gor­don said in five years time the rail­ways in Wales “will be un­recog­nis­able” af­ter suf­fer­ing years of un­der-in­vest­ment.

The com­pany says pas­sen­gers will start to see im­prove­ments in ser­vice lev­els from De­cem­ber, with in­creased ca­pac­ity on the Val­leys Lines and new ser­vices be­tween Ch­ester and Liver­pool.

All staff work­ing for Arriva Trains Wales, to­talling 2,356, of which 610 are train driv­ers and 512 guards, will trans­fer over to Ke­o­lis-Amey. It cur­rently has a fleet of 127 trains, with in ex­cess of 1,000 pas­sen­ger ser­vices per day.

Key plans for the fran­chise in­clude:

An ad­di­tional 600 staff re­cruited to de­liver the ser­vice, while 450 new ap­pren­tice­ships (30 every year) will also be cre­ated over the life of the con­tract

£1.9bn will be in­vested in im­prov­ing pas­sen­gers’ travel ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing an £800m in­vest­ment in trains, boost­ing over­all ser­vice ca­pac­ity by 65%

All trains will be re­placed by 2023 when 95% of jour­neys (though not on mileage) will be on new trains, half of which will be as­sem­bled in Wales at a new train maker fac­tory at Llan­wern from Span­ish firm CAF

£194m will be in­vested to mod­ernise all 247 sta­tions with five new sta­tions in­clud­ing in Cardiff at Ga­balfa, Cr­wys Road, Loudoun Square and the Flour­ish (next to the Wales Mil­len­nium Cen­tre), ser­viced by tram-trains that will run on bat­tery power across Cardiff

And it is un­der­stood there are plans for a new Tre­for­est sta­tion to be lo­cated nearer to Nant­garw, where the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions is cre­at­ing a new HQ for 1,700 staff and the cam­pus of Co­leg Y Cy­moedd is lo­cated.

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