Full Steam Ahead as New Welsh Rail Franchise Launches

Wrexham’s Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths believes this weekend marks the beginning of a rail revolution in Wales as a brand new rail franchise, Transport for Wales, takes over the running of the railways from Arriva.

Ushering in a new era of investment, the Welsh Labour Government has outlined some of the many changes, totalling almost £5 billion, which are set to transform rail services over the 15-year contract period.

Some of the improvements will be immediate, such as a new customer website and app, new branding appearing across the network and enhanced Welsh language service provision – while others will be introduced as soon as possible.  These include plans to spend £194m on station modernisation and the deep cleaning of stations from December.

Wrexham General will be at the forefront of these planned improvements, with new signage being installed to test public reaction before the concept is rolled out to other stations.

Lesley Griffiths AM has welcomed the plans and has praised the impact it will have in North Wales. She said: “It’s fair to say the current Wales and Borders franchise has not delivered for people in Wrexham and across Wales – since 2003, Arriva Trains Wales invested £600,000 in Welsh stations but the new franchise will see almost £200m spent on stations in the coming years.”

“This is truly a new era for Welsh rail services.  Everyone in Wales will benefit from this substantial investment which will help boost our economy and transform communities.  The ground-breaking plans will improve reliability, availability and affordability for passengers in Wrexham and throughout the country.”

Major benefits of the new Wales and Borders rail contract include:

  • An additional 600 staff will be recruited to deliver the service in a range of roles and 450 new apprenticeships (30 every year) will also be created over the life of the contract.
  • £1.9 billion will be invested in improving passengers’ travel experience, including an £800 million investment in trains, boosting overall service capacity by 65 per cent.
  • By 2023 95 per cent of journeys will be on a 148 brand new trains, half of which will be assembled in Wales.
  • From December 2022 there will be a 28 per cent increase in Sunday mileage, creating a true seven-day-a-week service.

In North East Wales, work will take place to deliver the North Wales Metro by increasing frequency on the Wrexham-Bidston line to 2 trains per hour from December 2021, with fully refurbished metro trains.  A new service will also link Cardiff and Liverpool via Wrexham.

Further investment will take place at Shotton Station and Wrexham General to enable North Wales Metro capability as well as improved services on the North-South long distance line.