Award of new Welsh franchise confirmed

THE award of the new Wales & Borders franchise to KeolisAmey has been confirmed, after the end of the ten-day ‘standstill’ period during which losing bidder MTR could have challenged the decision.

The 15-year contract will run from 4 June until 16 October 2033, although KeolisAmey will not take over the train services from Arriva Trains Wales until 14 October this year.

KeolisAmey will work in partnership with Transport for Wales, running all services under a new ‘Transport for Wales’ brand.

Transport for Wales itself is a not-for-profit company set up by the Welsh Government.

The First Minister, with transport secretary Ken Skates, announced the new contract at a special event at the Railway Training Centre at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw, accompanied by Keolis president Jean-Pierre Farandou and Amey chief executive officer Andy Milner.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “This is an important moment for transport in Wales and begins a new chapter for rail services in this country..

“The way we shaped this procurement was different. We put passengers’ priorities at the centre of our thinking and threw out a challenge to all of the bidders to address the concerns they had about seat capacity, journey times and service frequency.  People said they wanted affordable fares and newer, cleaner trains and we have worked hard to ensure this is reflected in what we are launching today.”

The Welsh Government said £1.9 billion will be invested, including an £800 million investment in trains, boosting capacity by 65 per cent.  An additional 600 staff will be recruited and 30 apprentices will be employed each year, making a total of 450 during the life of the contract.

All the present fleet will have been replaced by 2023, when 95 per cent of journeys will be on new trains, half of which will have been assembled in Wales.

£194 million will modernise all 247 stations and build four new stations at Gabalfa, Crwys Road, Loudoun Square and the Flourish. There will also be smart ticketing.

Passengers are being promised improvements in service levels from December 2018, with increased capacity on the Valley lines and new services between Chester and Liverpool. 

By the end of 2023 there will be an additional 285 services each weekday, including improvements to the Ebbw Vale and Wrexham–Bidston lines as well as the Cambrian and Heart of Wales routes.

Mr Jones added: “This is a chance not simply to build a modern, forward looking transport system, but to use it as an important tool to shape the life of the nation around us. This is a landmark moment in the future development of Wales.”

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