Agenda item

Transport for Wales Rail Service

Alexia Course, Director of Rail Operations, Transport for Wales


The Chair welcomed Alexia Course and Lois Park from Transport for Wales Rail Services to provide an update on the future of the Wales and Borders rail contract.


Due to COVID 19, passenger numbers have plummeted since March 2020 as low as 5% with consequent drop in revenue.  Whilst a vaccine is expected , there is no immediate indication of when numbers will recover.  The Group was updated that Keolis Amey Wales was unable in the circumstances to sustain their business without significant government intervention and an Emergency Measures Agreement was implemented in the short term.  Safety remains the highest priority. 


Transport for Wales is committed to delivering the vision for Wales and Borders Services launched two years ago:


·         Core Valley lines transformation to deliver the South Wales Metro

·         New trains and Rolling Stock


The future Operating model from 7th February 2021 in the medium term (5-7 years) was explained:



*Keolis Amey will continue with the contract to deliver infrastructure management and transformation on the Core Valley Lines.


A Group Member expressed concern about the rail services in Chepstow as the lack of provision drives potential passengers to use their cars.  It was responded that the average service level based on customer demand and staff availability in the current Covid period is 80-85%.  The Chepstow line is operating close to 100% of pre-Covid services level.  Other operators have reduced services and stopping patterns, and representations have been made to bring about the reintroduction of morning services.  An official response from the DfT is awaited.


Post-Covid, there is an advertising campaign to entice and support customers safely back to the train.  The request for additional services will be considered when the timetable is reviewed.  From December 2022 there will be an hourly service from Chepstow to Cheltenham, plus additional Sunday services.


A Group Member asked about the withdrawal of the Cross Country Cardiff to Manchester (via Bristol) service and if TfW would consider taking up the service at 7.00am from Cardiff to Bristol using a derogation of the agency agreement limitation.  It was responded that TfW and DfT are in initial discussions about this, subject to rolling stock and train crew availability.


A question was asked about the agency agreement and the hourly service, it was queried if a half hourly service could be considered that may require challenging the agency agreement barrier of only one train into Cheltenham per hour. It was agreed to look into this suggestion.


An update from Tracey Messner, Network Rail was received about Abergavenny Station Bridge as follows:


“I am aware it’s a while since we’ve updated you on our progress with the Access for All scheme at Abergavenny station. Given the history of this project, I thought it would be a great chance to update you on what’s been achieved so far and our next steps.


The Access for All Programme provides an obstacle free, accessible route to and between platforms. We manage and deliver the improvements which are funded by the Department for Transport who also select the stations. In Wales, this is match funded by Welsh Government through Transport for Wales.


We were so pleased that Abergavenny was selected by DfT for the programme. I know it’s taken some time to get to this point but I’m pleased to tell you that the project is progressing well and we have now finalised our Options Selection report. This report allows us to identify the preferred solution to creating a step free accessible route between platforms at the station. At Abergavenny, this will be the addition of two lifts to the existing footbridge and, importantly, it will be in a way that will not conflict with the existing signalling arrangements.


We’ve now started the tender process for the next stage, which is ‘Single Option Development’. Once we complete this stage we will have outline design drawings for the proposed scheme. We’ll be working closely with Transport for Wales Rail Services during this stage, as well as the Conservation Officer to ensure we protect the station’s heritage and obtain all the necessary consents for the scheme.


I hope to keep you updated as the scheme progresses, but in the meantime please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.”


The volunteer contributors to the meeting were sincerely thanked for their participation in meetings.  Their knowledge and expertise is extremely valuable and greatly appreciated.