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In the face of dramatic falls in passenger numbers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Welsh government has announced that it has decided to bring the Wales and Borders rail franchise under public control.
The Welsh Transport Minister, Ken Skates, has said that the move will help to secure the future of passenger services in Wales and the Borders area, protect jobs and maintain the Welsh government’s ambitious plans for Metro.
The move comes after a challenging period in which COVID-19 has significantly impacted passenger numbers and rail revenue across Wales.
The new arrangements will see day to day rail services become the responsibility of a new publicly-owned subsidiary of Transport for Wales (TfW), which includes a new partnership between Transport for Wales, Keolis and Amey.
The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates said: “The last few months have been extremely challenging for public transport in Wales and across the UK. COVID-19 has significantly impacted passenger revenues, and the Welsh government has had to step in with significant support to stabilise the network and keep it running. We have decided to transfer of day to day rail services to a new publicly-owned subsidiary of Transport for Wales.”
The decision follows the collapse of rail franchises across England as the privatised model comes under strain from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“In Wales, we will continue a partnership approach between TfW, Keolis and Amey as we work together to protect services for the Welsh public, safeguard jobs and secure the important Metro projects that we have been working so hard on over the last few years.” Ken added.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “There are no easy answers to the challenges we face in rail and in public transport over the next few years – passenger numbers have fallen and there will be difficult days ahead as we navigate through the challenges of COVID-19. We are bringing the Wales and Borders service into public hands because it is a vital asset, critical to the future of our economy and our communities. I want us to maintain our ambition for a high quality and integrated public transport system with modal shift at its heart over the next few years, and I believe that today’s announcement is vital in helping us do that.”
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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