Transport User Voice – December 2022 – Around Great Britain
29 November 2022
Wales, Scotland and the West Midlands
The Transport Focus Board met in Cardiff on 22 and 23 November. We put together a programme of discussions and activities so they could have further insight into the issues and plans for transport users in Wales.
On the first of the two days the Board sampled the Valleys train service to Pontypridd, to meet with senior leaders at Transport for Wales. They heard about current challenges and the innovations being planned. Board members were keen to discuss how a more customer-focused approach can be achieved and how Transport Focus can help.
The day also featured a visit to Taff’s Well, where the Board saw one of the fflecsi buses and engaged with staff about plans for the service which was the focus of our recent research. They enjoyed walking around the mock-ups of new trains that are being built for service in Wales, getting a sense of what the passenger experience will be as well as the view from the driver’s cab. Staff updated Board members on where the different trains will run and that the first of the class 197 trains have already started to carry passengers in North Wales.
The second day saw our Board meeting in public, with keynote address from Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS. We also had presentations from Network Rail and Transport for Wales, as well as an overview of Transport Focus work in Wales. Find out more here.
Earlier this month we were at the Annual Scottish Rail Conference. The aim was to look at how Scotland’s railways have a critical role in supporting the wider economy, our communities and Scotland’s push for net zero. The impact of the Covid pandemic over the last few years has presented a fundamental change to rail as passenger numbers have plummeted and travel patterns altered.
What therefore needs to happen next to ensure rail in Scotland’s long-term sustainability? We presented our insight at the conference which examined:
- passenger experience through the pandemic
- what passengers want next
- whether passenger expectations are constant or changing.
The top three broad priorities are the same in terms of punctuality, reliability and value for money. Commuting has changed, perhaps for good, with hybrid and flexible working. Leisure could offer opportunities for more innovative, joined up approaches. We challenged the rail industry on how family friendly our railway is and if the passenger experience is currently anywhere near good enough to give passengers confidence to return – and stay?
We are pleased to be a member of the bus taskforce established by the Scottish Government to address the immediate challenges. This will help bus networks move to a more sustainable footing following Covid and ensure that recovery is fully supported by wider policies to improve bus services across Scotland.
The West Midlands
We work closely with West Midlands Trains on community rail which is a key area of focus. It was great to see West Midlands Trains launch its Community Rail Strategy at its recent stakeholder conference. The strategy links in seamlessly with the Department for Transport Community Rail Strategy. It has five key themes, which are:
- youth engagement
- personal safety
- encouraging modal shift
- rail recovery.
West Midlands is the first region to pioneer community station partnerships. It will be great to collaborate in the year ahead on a number of community projects that West Midlands Trains has planned, supported and funded through its Your Community, Your Fund programme.
In November, we were at Wolverhampton station for an event to encourage and promote diversity and inclusion. The event celebrated a new children’s publication My Mummy is a Train Driver which aims to tackle gender biases across roles and industries – including engineering and train driving.
We will also be involved with updating West Midlands Rail Executive’s Rail Investment Strategy as part of our role in the customer experience and commercial director’s forum. We are looking to improve closer working, revenue protection and customer information across the region.
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