Wales politics

Wales rail franchise priorities suggested by assembly report

Arriva train in north Wales
Image caption Responsibility for deciding who runs the service now lies with the Welsh Government

New trains, modern stations and affordable, simple tickets should be among the priorities for the next Wales and Borders rail franchise, an assembly report has said.

Four groups are bidding to run services from October 2018, with the decision in the Welsh Government's hands.

The economy committee said ministers faced a "heroically ambitious" task with no experience to fall back on.

Ministers said they wanted a transport network "fit for modern Wales".

AMs said passengers wanted punctual and reliable services with seats for all.

Those findings came in a survey of almost 3,000 rail users carried out as part of the committee's inquiry.

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Media captionEconomy Secretary Ken Skates wants to see rail improvements quickly

Its report, published on Friday, set out 10 priorities for the new Wales and Borders franchise:

  • Effective monitoring of performance
  • Greener, cleaner service
  • Integrated network with buses and other train operators
  • New routes and service frequencies responding to passenger needs
  • Affordable fares with clear, simple ticketing options
  • New trains with adequate space and on-board services
  • Better information and communication on connections and delays
  • Modern stations
  • Ensure all passengers pay their fares
  • Reduced disruption

Russell George, the Conservative AM who chairs the committee, said: "Awarding a rail franchise is not simple.

"So for the Welsh Government to be letting a franchise for the first time represents a big challenge. With no experience to fall back on it is doing everything from scratch. That alone would be cause for pause.

"But other circumstances - including the delays over the devolution of powers to the Welsh Government, uncertainty about funding, and the ageing trains that run in Wales - combine to make the Welsh Government's task heroically ambitious."

Image copyright Welsh government
Image caption The proposed South Wales Metro will be part of the franchise

In January, MPs on the Welsh Affairs Committee reported that people were tired of "old and cramped" trains provided by Arriva Trains Wales.

The MPs said many problems were due to "a huge failure" to allow for higher passenger growth when the current 15-year franchise was awarded by the now defunct Strategic Rail Authority in 2003.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We welcome this very thorough report, which shares our vision for an improved, high quality, integrated transport network in Wales, one which has the passenger at its heart and delivers a service fit for modern Wales.

"We will be considering the detail in this report alongside findings from our own consultation outlining what passengers expect of the new service and look forward to seeing the next rail franchise lay the foundation for a transformed integrated transport network across Wales."

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