Hitachi's UK plant looks to the world market
Sliding seats could enable passenger trains to carry goods
A1 No 60163 Tornado does 100mph
Rail Alliance drives Midlands Engine
GB Railfreight to implement Ideagen safety software
UAV survey company Bridgeway Aerial takes off
Fire at Euston Station causes nationwide rail disruption
DB Cargo UK confirms job cuts and reform
Subsea cable fault detection demonstrated to rail industry
HS2 rolling stock procurement moves forward
Plans to bring Wales & Borders passenger services under public management were announced by the Welsh Government on October 22, in a move which Minister for Economy, Transport & North Wales Ken Skates said would help secure the future of services, protect jobs and support the ongoing modernisation of routes around Cardiff.
Wales & Borders services are currently operated by a joint venture of SNCF subsidiary Keolis and engineering company Amey under a 15-year Operator & Development Partner contract awarded by the Welsh Government which began in 2018.
Under the new financing and operating model, which is to be finalised in the coming months, responsibility for day-to-day operations would be transferred from Keolis Amey Operations Ltd to a new wholly-owned subsidiary of government agency Transport for Wales.
This would operate under its own licence and approvals, and be regulated by the Office for Rail & Road. The transfer is expected to take place in February 2021, following a managed transition.
The transfer is intended to allow the Welsh Government to have a greater role ‘reflective of the new commercial realities of the post Covid-19 environment’, and provide a stable financial base in the face of ‘huge uncertainty’ over future passenger revenue.
A ‘new partnership’ with TfW would see KeolisAmey continue to work on the specification, delivery and introduction of new rolling stock, and TfW is to draw on Keolis’ international expertise in integrated ticketing, on-demand transport and multi-modal transport planning and delivery.
‘KeolisAmey have made a significant contribution to transport in Wales over the past two years and I’ve welcomed their collaborative approach to securing this agreement, which has allowed us to achieve a positive way forward’, said TfW CEO James Price. ‘We will continue to benefit from the international industry expertise of both Keolis and Amey whilst giving TfW and the Welsh government more control to deliver our key transport objectives.’
Kevin Thomas, Chief Executive of KeolisAmey Wales, said ‘we recognise the need for the Welsh government to have a sustainable way forward for delivering its ambitious objectives for rail and we are pleased to have agreed and put in place robust principles as we work on the details of a new agreement’. He added that ‘we’re committed to our partnership with TfW and the next phase of this exciting transformation journey’.
The Amey-led AmeyKeolis Infrastructure special purpose joint venture will continue with its current contract to deliver the modernisation of the Core Valley Lines around Cardiff as part of the South Wales Metro programme, and will continue to manage and maintain infrastructure on the lines which the Welsh government acquired from Network Rail earlier this year. This is intended to provide stability and ensure effective delivery of the enhancement work.
Skates said the new model would ‘continue to help deliver our vision for a high quality rail service through effective vertical integration of track and train, building on the work already achieved through the transfer of the Central Valleys Lines earlier this year’.
No easy answers‘The last few months have been extremely challenging for public transport in Wales and across the UK’, Skates said. ‘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.’
Ridership reached a low of 5% of normal levels as a result of lockdown measures. ‘There are some difficult days ahead and some difficult decisions ahead as we come to terms with the new economic realities of coronavirus’, warned Skates. ‘Many public services across Wales are now more expensive to deliver than they were prior to the crisis.’
Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport Lee Waters 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.
‘We are bringing the Wales & 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.’
ResponsesWelcoming the announcement, the RMT trade union called on the UK government to bring forward legislation which would give the Welsh government powers to permanently retain operations in the public sector.
‘We will also be seeking urgent assurances that railway workers jobs and conditions will be fully protected and the railway will be properly funded’, said General Secretary Mick Cash. ‘RMT is also seeking reassurance that rail infrastructure maintenance will also continue to be provided by the public sector as it was under Network Rail.’
RMT also called on the Scottish government to take similar action with regard to Abellio’s ScotRail and Serco’s Caledonian Sleeper contracts.
TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes said ‘frankly the game is up for the failed franchising model’. He said the union was looking to meet TfW to discuss how the new arrangements would work in practice, saying ‘ministers must honour existing terms and conditions of all staff and their trade union recognition rights. We trust that they will also work with us on maintaining the travel facilities our members now enjoy.’
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
About this website
Railpage version 3.10.0.0037
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is © 2003-2020 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.