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Transport for Wales under fire after failing to meet new trains target

14 Oct 2023 4 minute read
One of the new Transport for Wales tram trains

Plaid Cymru has criticised the Welsh Government’s handling of Transport for Wales (TfW) and its failure to meet the pledge that new trains would make up 95% of train stock by 2023.

Marking five years since TfW took over the rail franchise for Wales, PlaidCymru complained of “old trains, late trains and customer dissatisfaction,” and demanded an improvement in the service being offered to passengers.

When TfW took over the franchise from Arriva in 2018, they promised that customers would ‘begin to see improved services from the outset’. However, five years later it consistently gains the lowest approval ratings of rail services in the UK and stations in Wales have the highest service cancellation rate.

Last month, TfW was confirmed as the is the worst ranked rail operator for overall customer satisfaction in Britain, according to the latest Rail User Survey conducted by Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for transport users.

It revealed that overall satisfaction with services has fallen to 72 per cent, the lowest level recorded across the 15 rail operators included in the survey. In the last year the satisfaction level recorded by  passengers has declined by 10 points.

Punctuality, reliability, and service frequency are among the key areas where passengers were unhappy and TfW was ranked in 15th place across all three categories.

Plaid Cymru has revealed  that currently only 29% of TfW services are being operated with new trains as we approach the end of the year.

Lack of funding

The Welsh minister responsible for transport, Lee Waters, said recently that he expects trains in Wales ‘will get less reliable in the next five years’ due to a lack of funding from Westminster, leading to accusations of a “real lack of a plan and ambition for rail in Wales”.

Plaid Cymru’s transport spokesperson, Delyth Jewell, said: “When TFW took over the rail franchise in Wales, we were promised by the Labour Welsh Government that passengers would see improved services from the outset.

“But five years on, too much of the rail network in Wales can still be summarized by its old trains, late trains and huge levels of customer dissatisfaction. Punctuality, reliability and frequency of services has fallen. Poor information and support for passengers during disruption is still the norm.

“I’m also concerned that the government has said that we can expect trains in Wales ‘will get less reliable in the next five years’, showing a real lack of a plan and ambition for rail in Wales.

“From Westminster, we continue to receive empty promises on investment that never materialise, and are then swiftly abandoned. The electrification of rail lines for the north of Wales, like the south, was promised one day then scrapped the next. HS2 has also been scrapped, with billions of pounds in consequentials held back.

“In Plaid Cymru, we continue to strive for ambition for our transport sector. We accept that there are vast funding issues for our railways, but it’s so frustrating that the Welsh Government haven’t done more to demand the full devolution of rail which, if achieved, would allow us to control these levers ourselves.

“With the billions we’ve been denied from the HS2 project, we could develop new services and upgrades, we could ensure the electrification of rail lines for the north and south of Wales and we could shore up our struggling bus network.

“But as is stands, standards of Welsh rail are not moving forward, and any ambition for transport by Labour and the Tories remains at a halt.”

New trains

TfW said: “Some of our original targets set in 2018, including 95% of journeys being on new trains by 2023, have been revised because of the pandemic and other factors.

“Good progress is now being made on the supply, testing and introduction of our £800m fleet of brand-new trains.

“We’ve also… increased rail services by 20% since taking over the Wales and borders franchise and invested £33m in our stations in just five years.”

Following the Covid pandemic the operator said targets had be reassessed due to its impact, including “disruptions in supply chains, the delivery of infrastructure needed to operate new services and the ability to train new train crews.”.

In response to a written question from Delyth Jewell asking what proportion of rail journeys in Wales are currently being undertaken by new trains, specifically Class 197, Class 230, Class 231 and Class 756 trains? Lee Waters replied “Transport for Wales (TfW) has accepted a number of Class 197, 230, 231 and 756s and these will be introduced into service as they complete testing and when the new Core Valley Lines infrastructure opens. TfW reports that currently 29% of its services are being operated with new trains.”

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P Reed
7 months ago

If anybody believes for one minute Plaid would improve the situation forget it.

Bob McIntyre
Bob McIntyre
7 months ago

Could the lack of political will to grab TfW by the scruff of the neck and sack senior management who have proved so incompetent, be that it is nationalised? Is any Welsh politician going to condemn this? The trouble with TfW is that all the real railwaymen (no misogynistic intent intended here) have left and the management have no idea what they are doing. Just look at the litany of failures: Class 230s have been a shambles, no mention of TfW’s Classes 756 and 170: money wasted; and the “Premier Service” of trains to Manchester or Holyhead is still being… Read more »

7 months ago

Total Total Shambles ,cant remember the last time i payed for a train ticket ,Delay repay best thing ever to happen 😫😫😫😫

7 months ago

Just getting any train turn up on the Heart of Wales line is a bonus…

7 months ago

Once again the old chestnut blaming Westminster for all their wows. Yet they can find £30 for 20 mph and another £90 for extra seats for their cronies in Cardiff

7 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Do you know anything worth saying .
7 months ago

I am unclear of whether Plaid Cymru is aware that there has been a Covid-19 epidemic. TfW also had a serious problem with their historical train fleet. New trains take time to eliminate the problems with them which is not in transport for Wales contro..

7 months ago
Reply to

Sorting out an integrated public transport system should have been one of the Welsh governments main priorities along with reducing NHS waiting times. They’ve wasted millions on unnecessary ideologically driven vanity projects

Merv Thomas
Merv Thomas
5 months ago

I would like to know why do TFW & the Govt keep blaming their delays, Shortfalls & Non Show of New Trains on Covid, The truth is TFW have not got enough Drivers to learn on the new trains and routes, That’s the real reason, Sometimes the truth Hurts, Start employing a few new drivers & all off your customers won’t have any complaints to make, The way it’s going it will be 2030 before we see all of the new rolling stock on Welsh Railway Lines.

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