Probe launched over safety concerns of TfW rail replacement services
Transport for Wales is launching an investigation after passengers were told to sit on the floor and stairwell of an overcrowded rail replacement bus service.
This month TfW have been providing a number of bus services to replace cancelled trains whilst engineering work is carried out on the South Wales Metro.
A passenger of a minibus provided by TfW on the valleys line between Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil raised concerns about the safety of the service after a bus driver told passengers to sit on the floor as there were no more seats available.
Karla Brading from Merthyr Tydfil said she was shocked when the driver of the bus also told a man to sit in the stairwell facing the door.
The bus was still about 20 minutes from its final destination.
Ms Brading took a photo of the incident and told Nation Cymru that a couple with a baby who attempted to board the bus were also told by the driver they could ‘risk it’ and sit on the floor in the aisle.
The couple declined and opted not to board the service.
Ms Brading said: “I took the picture because I’d become so concerned about the safety of travelling on these rail replacement bus services put on by Transport for Wales.
“This is not the first time I’ve seen passengers sitting on the floor of tiny minibuses that are far too small to pick up all the passengers waiting to get to Merthyr town.
“It’s become so stressful for me when I need to get to work or take my 8 year old daughter to school. I worry if the bus will arrive at all, if it will be big enough, if I’ll be turned away or if it will be overcrowded and potentially unsafe.
“It feels as though people living in the south Wales valleys have been an after-thought whilst work is carried out on the South Wales Metro.”
Work to modernise current rail infrastructure on the Aberdare, Coryton, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney, and Treherbert railway lines has been ongoing since the summer of 2020.
TfW have said the majority of work is scheduled for completion in 2024.
Adam Terry, Head of Operational Planning for TfW said: “As we continue to build the South Wales Metro, we’re using bus rail replacement services to keep people moving.
“There are enough bus services running in the timetable so that all customers can have access to a seat and travel safely.
“We will investigate into this case and ensure bus drivers are providing the correct information and service to our customers. Safety has and will always be our main priority.”
Nation Cymru approached the Welsh Government for a comment.
A spokesperson said that as it was an operational issue for TfW, they would not be providing a statement.
Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar said: “For the past year I have been probing the Deputy Minister on countless occasions in relation to having adequate bus services for rail replacements and large scale events in Wales.
“It’s a fact that public transport is already below par in Wales and this seems to be getting increasingly worse.
“Safety of passengers on all modes of public transport is and should always be a priority and I am stunned why a passenger was asked to sit in a stairwell and would very much like to know about the findings of this investigation.”
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