New Welsh franchise
Transport for Wales launches its ‘made in Wales’ franchise, designed and delivered by the Welsh Government.
The new Wales & Borders passenger franchise started on October 14, with Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones declaring that by 2033 it can be the best passenger service in the UK.
The franchise is being operated by KeolisAmey, and will be branded Transport for Wales (TfW). New trains worth £800 million are being ordered, while £783m is earmarked for the South Wales Metro concept and £194m is being invested in stations.
TfW claims that more than 600 new jobs and 450 apprenticeships will be created during the 15-year franchise. Under-11s will travel free and 16 to 18-year-olds will travel at half the adult fare.
Launching the franchise at Pontypridd station, Jones said: “This is an important moment for rail in Wales - indeed for devolution itself. Led by Transport for Wales with our partners KeolisAmey, this will be the very first ‘made in Wales’ rail service, designed and delivered by the Welsh Government. The opportunity to re-design and re-purpose our railway network in Wales is a oncein-a-generation opportunity, and I am confident that by 2033 it can be the best passenger rail service in the UK.
“It is important to understand that our bold ambitions will take time to bring to fruition, and won’t be achieved overnight. However, when I talk to the drivers, the guards, the maintenance crews or ticket hall staff across Wales, I’m always struck by their enthusiasm and their belief in what our rail network can be in Wales. We are lucky to have so many people, who come to work for a service every day, genuinely wanting to make it better - and who see in it the potential for growth.”
TfW Chief Executive James Price said: “Transport for Wales has innovative plans to revolutionise transport across Wales, and ambitions to create a rail service that puts customers first. Taking over the running of the Wales and Borders rail service is an important first step on an exciting journey of transformation that will also see the creation of the South Wales Metro.”
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus also welcomed the new franchise. Director David Sidebottom said: “Passengers tell us that their priorities for the new Wales and Borders railway are reliable services on which they can get a seat and are good value for money.
“Passengers will look forward to seeing the benefits of new trains, additional services and increased capacity. To maintain passengers’ trust, Transport for Wales must clearly communicate when these improvements will be delivered and how passengers might be disrupted by any necessary changes.
“We look forward to working closely with Transport for Wales in helping deliver a new service with passengers’ interests at its heart.”