Posted: June 4, 2018 - 9:58 am
Rail passengers across Wales and its borders can look forward to the transformation of their rail services thanks to a £5 billion investment that will fund significant improvements to the frequency and quality of Wales and Borders services, as well as the creation of the South Wales Metro.
Following a rigorous procurement process under the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, First Minister Carwyn Jones today (Monday 4 June) announced the Welsh Government has contracted KeolisAmey to operate and develop the Wales and Borders rail service and South Wales Metro working in partnership with Transport for Wales.
The 15-year contract will run from 4 June, 2018 until 16 October, 2033, with KeolisAmey taking over the Wales and Borders rail service from Arriva Trains Wales on 14th October, 2018.
A joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis with infrastructure asset management specialist Amey, KeolisAmey will work in partnership with Transport for Wales, running all services under the Transport for Wales brand.
Transport for Wales is the not-for-profit company driving forward the Welsh Government’s vision of a high-quality, safe, integrated, affordable and accessible transport network in Wales.
The First Minister, with Transport Secretary Ken Skates, announced the new contract at a special event at the Railway Training Centre at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw, accompanied by Keolis President Jean-Pierre Farandou and Amey Chief Executive Officer Andy Milner.
The announcement comes as rail powers are devolved to the Welsh Government. This follows detailed discussions between the Department for Transport and the Welsh Government.
The agreement takes into account the fact that many of the rail services operate on both sides of the border between England and Wales and includes safeguards to protect all passengers using these routes.
Major benefits of the new Wales and Borders rail contract include:
- An additional 600 staff will be recruited to deliver the service in a range of roles and 450 new apprenticeships (30 every year) will also be created over the life of the contract.
- £1.9 billion will be invested in improving passengers’ travel experience, including an £800 million investment in trains, boosting overall service capacity by 65 per cent.
- All trains will be replaced by 2023 when 95 per cent of journeys will be on brand new trains, half of which will be assembled in Wales.
- £194 million will be invested to modernise all 247 stations and build four new stations: Gabalfa, Crwys Road, Loudoun Square and the Flourish.
- Stations will be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy, at least 50 per cent of which will be sourced in Wales. This is just one of the ways that the new service will contribute to achieving the policy goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
- Investment in active travel initiatives will include the installation of new cycle lockers and a target to achieve Secure Station accreditation for all stations.
- Passengers will start to see improvements in service levels from December 2018, with increased capacity on the valleys lines and new services between Chester and Liverpool.
- By the end of 2023, passengers will be able to take advantage of an additional 285 services each weekday across Wales (a 29 per cent increase). This will include improvements to the Ebbw Vale and Wrexham – Bidston lines as well as the Cambrian and Heart of Wales lines.
- Sunday services will be boosted by 61 per cent with an additional 294 services across Wales, creating a true seven-day-a-week service.
- Smart ticketing will ensure that fares are more flexible and cheaper off-peak fares will be introduced including fare reductions in North Wales and at approximately 50 per cent of stations in the valleys.
- New technology will also help to reduce disruption and improve services.
- In response to customer demand, more frequent trains, reduced journey times and more flexible fares will make travelling easier and more cost effective.
- Greater capacity and improved services will also help to maximise the economic development opportunities provided by the new service, enabling people to take advantage of more and better employment opportunities.
The First Minister said:
“This is an important moment for transport in Wales and begins a new chapter for rail services in this country.
The way we shaped this procurement was different. We put passengers’ priorities at the centre of our thinking and threw out a challenge to all of the bidders to address the concerns they had about seat capacity, journey times and service frequency. People said they wanted affordable fares and newer, cleaner trains and we have worked hard to ensure this is reflected in what we are launching today.
This is a chance not simply to build a modern, forward looking transport system, but to use it as an important tool to shape the life of the nation around us. This is a landmark moment in the future development of Wales.”