“Old trains, late trains and customer dissatisfaction” - Plaid Cymru has criticised Transport for Wales’ first five disappointing years, and sets out need for improvement.
Plaid has criticised the Welsh Government's handling of the rail service, five years after TfW took over the rail franchise in Wales.
When TfW took over the franchise from Arriva in 2018, they promised that customers would ‘begin to see improved services from the outset’.
However, 5 years later TfW consistently gains the lowest approval ratings of rail services in the UK and stations in Wales have the highest service cancellation rate.
Plaid Cymru has also come to understand that despite the Welsh Government pledging that ‘95% of rail journeys in Wales and its borders will be on new trains from 2023’ it has been revealed that only 29% of TfW services are being operated with new trains as we near the end of the year.
Along with these many staggering issues facing TfW, the Welsh minister for transport, Lee Waters, recently said that he expects trains in Wales 'will get less reliable in the next five years' due to a lack of funding from Westminster, a comment that has led Plaid Cymru to criticise the ‘real lack of a plan and ambition for rail in Wales’.
Marking 5 years of the TfW franchise, Plaid Cymru called for more action to be taken by the Welsh Government to improve the service and rolling stock, including the full devolution of rail which could end the financial crisis and chronic underfunding facing the Welsh rail network.
Plaid has consistently called for rail services to be improved for passengers, including cheaper fares, a more reliable service and better communications with passengers, especially during disruption. The party has also led the cause for the full devolution of rail, which would allow for the full HS2 Barnett consequentials.
Plaid’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.”