Arriva makes surprise exit from Welsh competition

ARRIVA has decided to withdraw from the competition to run the next Wales & Borders franchise.

Arriva Trains Wales managing director Tom Joyner has confirmed the move. He said: “We have been notified that Arriva Group have withdrawn from the bidding process for the next Wales and Borders franchise.

“Our key priority following this announcement is to continue to focus on the delivery of our services for the people and communities that depend on us for the remainder of the current franchise, including a £1 million Arriva Trains Wales investment in additional trains which will be introduced in 2018.

“We will continue to work closely with our government and industry partners to support them with the delivery of their priorities.”

Arriva had been one of four shortlisted bidders. The others are Abellio Rail Cymru, KeolisAmey and MTR Corporation (Cymru) Ltd.

The award of this franchise is being devolved to the Welsh Government, which intends to follow a ‘not for profit’ model and had said that the winner was set to be announced in December this year.

The Welsh Government said: “It is not uncommon for bidders for major projects to withdraw during the tender process and Arriva have been clear they have done this for their own commercial reasons.

“The procurement process is a tough and demanding one and we recognise Arriva's extensive work to date.

“With final tenders due later this year, we have three companies with world-class credentials each putting their own, distinct cases for how they will deliver the ambitious objectives we set, with the goal of delivering a step change in rail services for passengers across Wales and the Borders.”

The RMT, however, said the revelation exposed ‘the whole flaky and opportunist nature of the rail franchising process’. A spokesman for the union added: “They appear to have pulled out because they can't make enough money, which is extraordinary. 

“This news presents a golden opportunity for the Welsh to take back control of their railways through public ownership and that opportunity should be seized with both hands.”

The leader of the opposition in the Welsh assembly, Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies, said he would now be pressing the Welsh Government to reveal ‘the exact date as to when Transport for Wales were first informed of Arriva's withdrawal’.

He continued: “The timing of the Cabinet Secretary's announcement falls on a suspiciously auspicious period for the Welsh Government, who have developed a habit for burying bad news during recess.”

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