£5 billion transformation programme of Wales and Borders network underway as operator gears up for launch of the December timetable and asset transfer of Core Valleys Lines in January 2020
The £5 billion transformation of the Wales and Borders rail network is underway as KeolisAmey Wales, the operator of Transport for Wales Rail Services marks the first year anniversary of franchise handover from Arriva Trains Wales on 14 October 2018.
Covering 1035 route miles (11% of the UK railway network), KeolisAmey has reported encouraging progress with the transformation of the network including the creation of 120 new roles and 580 grant agreement obligations already signed-off by the newly formed authority, Transport for Wales. Overall customer satisfaction stands at 82% according to the latest survey by Transport Focus (Spring 2019).
Other highlights over the year include the creation of the advanced fare initiative, making it cheaper for journeys over 50 miles and the launch of delay repay 15 enabling customers to claim for delays of 15 minutes or more. Passenger Time Lost, a new industry leading performance measure has also been launched with the focus on a more reliable and punctual service across the network rather than only measuring punctuality at terminals.
7600 additional seats will have been introduced across the network every week since the launch of the May timetable including a new Chester to Liverpool service with the December timetable seeing earlier first trains and later last trains along with an increase in Sunday services.
Five Class153’s have been brought on to the network in 2019 with two fully refurbished Class 175’s rolled-out featuring power sockets and new style seating. The first Class 170 will be in service ahead of schedule with a further 11 units expected to be introduced for the December timetable along with the long-awaited Class 769s in the new year. Transport for Wales has recently confirmed that the Pacers will remain in service for a short period beyond December 2019 to provide additional capacity pending the arrival of the new fleet.
The Keolis Amey joint venture is also responsible for delivering the £738 million transformation of the Core Valleys Lines (CVL), including taking over responsibility for infrastructure maintenance from Network Rail at the end of January 2020.
Kevin Thomas Chief Executive of KeolisAmey Wales said: “These are exciting times and I want to thank everyone who is working with us on our journey to transform the railway in Wales and the Borders.
“This is a 15 year journey that will see the delivery of a high-quality transport network with a legacy of outstanding infrastructure. The passion and pride of our people is clear to see; resilience and capability really have been proven against a backdrop of significant resource and operational challenges with the team working tirelessly to ensure continuity of services whilst beginning a massive programme of transformation.
“We’re in the early stages of a plan to invest £194 million improving all 247 stations across the network, 148 new trains are on order and the transfer of the Core Valleys Lines is on schedule for early 2020. Work is ongoing with Government colleagues and industry partners to undertake the necessary steps to ensure the transfer of the CVL happens safely and in line with industry processes. By 2023, we will have created a transformed transport network that the people of South East Wales can be truly proud of.”
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO added: “It has been an exciting and challenging first year and we are proud to have started transforming the rail service for the people of Wales and the Borders.
“We are implementing some fundamental programmes that will help us to improve the customer experience. Behind the scenes, there has been detailed planning and preparation work going on for the delivery of the South Wales Metro, the introduction of brand-new trains and the vision to create a fully integrated transport network.
“As our operators, the team at KeolisAmey have worked in close collaboration with us to deliver on the Welsh Government vision of a high quality, safe, integrated, affordable and accessible transport network that the people of Wales are proud of.”