Smart Transport

Welsh Government to take rail franchise under public control

In the face of dramatic falls in passenger numbers the Welsh Government has decided to bring the Wales and Borders rail franchise under public control.

Transport Minister Ken Skates said the move will help secure the future of passenger services in Wales and the Borders area, protect jobs and maintain the Welsh government’s 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, which includes a new partnership between Transport for Wales, Keolis and Amey.

Skates said: “The last few months have been extremely challenging for public transport in Wales and across the UK. 

“Covid 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 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.

Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters added that bringing the rail service back into public hands was driven by the need to protect it as a “vital asset, critical to the future of the Welsh economy and its communities”.

He 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. 

“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.”

Watch our webinar. Covid-19: Transport responses outside cities

A Smart Transport webinar with the University of Hertfordshire

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Webinar content

While travel of all kinds has massively reduced during the Covid-19 lockdown, some travel for key workers and for freight is essential. 

How is this being provided, especially outside major cities? 

And what are the opportunities this might present for the future? 

This webinar will feature two experimental responses in different rural areas in the UK, and reflections from a tech company on the role microtransit, allied with data analysis, can play in meeting lockdown travel needs. 

It brings together Bauer's Smart Transport programme with the University of Hertfordshire's Smart Mobility Unit, which is researching and testing policy initiatives for transport outside cities. 

Speakers

- Beate Kubitz, innovative transport consultant: An e-cargo bike service for a Pennine village

- Austin Blackburn, Go Coach: Demand responsive buses for Kent during the lockdown

- Darian Helm/ Jerome Mayaud, SpareLabs: Microtransit as a response to lockdown transport needs

- Richard Dilks, CoMoUK: Reflections on mobility and transport outside cities during Covid-19, and implications for what follows.

Webinar chair

Stephen Joseph
Chair of Smart Transport and visiting professor, University of Hertfordshire. 

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