The Welsh Government has taken the Wales and Borders rail franchise into public ownership under a new subsidiary, Transport for Wales Rail Ltd.
The move, which was first announced in October 2020, comes in the face of a significant reduction in passenger numbers caused by the Covid pandemic and successive national lockdowns. It is intended to provide longer term financial stability, necessary to safeguard jobs, deliver infrastructure improvements and protect services for passengers.
Ken Skates, minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales (pictured above), said: “Our rail service is a critical asset and one we must protect. Since the pandemic began, we’ve provided significant financial support to keep trains running. The need for greater public control is a reflection of the ongoing pressures of coronavirus and the challenges being faced across the rail industry as passenger demand remains low.
“We remain determined to deliver key commitments made at the start of the journey with Transport for Wales, including the creation of Metro systems and the delivery of new rolling stock. Bringing the rail franchise into public control will help secure this better future for passengers. It is a public transport asset, in public ownership, for the public good.”
Transport for Wales has also set up a new partnership with Keolis and Amey called Transport for Wales Innovation Services. It will progress delivery of important commitments including integrated ticketing, on demand transport systems, design and delivery including different modes of transport, and the ongoing integration of light and heavy rail.
Lee Waters, deputy minister for Economy and Transport, said: “Tackling the climate emergency means we need to make it easier for people to step out of their cars and walk, cycle and use public transport instead. Transport for Wales will be working across all of these areas as part of our efforts to create an integrated, more convenient transport system.”
James Price has been appointed chief executive of Transport for Wales. He recognises the challenges presented by Covid but said the organisation would remain resilient and ensure it kept passengers and colleagues safe.
“This next step on our journey will ensure that we continue to provide passenger rail services across our network, protect jobs and deliver our ambitious plans to improve the transport network,” said Price.
“We’re continuing to deliver our transformational plans and this new model will allow us to achieve our vision and improve the lives of people across Wales and the Borders.”