A new dawn for rail travel has been promised from today when Transport for Wales takes over the running of passenger services for the Wales and the Borders franchise.
Over the last 15 years, rail operations in Wales have been provided by Arriva Trains Wales, but the German-owned firm decided to pull out of the tendering process for the new contract.
Welsh Government body Transport for Wales eventually awarded the rail contract, and responsibility for delivering the wider £5 billion South Wales Metro project, to KeolisAmey.
Welsh Transport Secretary Ken Skates said: “Our plans go beyond a traditional transport project – they have to become the spark for wider economic renewal.
“They have to help individuals, businesses and communities who need a reliable, integrated transport system to help them find a new job, support their business to expand, and bring new investment to their town.
“The Metro project is not only about dealing with today’s transport problems, but how we provide opportunities for the future —and not just in transport terms, but the impact that the Metro infrastructure will have on economic possibilities for people throughout south Wales.”
KeolisAmey, the French and Spanish-owned venture, was announced as the new franchisee in May.
KeolisAmey’s branding will not appear on livery, with trains displaying TfW colours and logos.
It has said its total investment in revamping services will total £1.9bn. This will include: £194m spent on modernising Wales’ 247 stations; £800m on replacing trains in Wales; an extra 285 services every weekday with an extra 294 services on Sundays – boosting overall service capacity by 65%; and better mobile reception on trains.
From 2023, 95% of journeys will be made on new trains, half of which will be assembled in Wales. Around 600 new jobs will be created with 30 new apprenticeships annually.
Arriva Trains Wales Managing Director Tom Joyner has thanked passengers and staff for the last 15 years.
At an event last month to mark the end of the company’s service he said: “We are proud that we have well and truly defied all expectations, growing customer journeys from 18 million to 33 million.
“We’ve overseen major investment in stations and played our part in some of the world’s biggest sporting events.
“There have been mistakes along the way and difficult situations, but we’ve come through them and come out stronger as a result and we are proud to be leaving the Wales and Borders network in a far stronger position than when we started in 2003.”