Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Transport User Voice – Despondent rail passengers call for better services in Wales

30 June 2017

Passengers travelling on Wales and Borders services are calling for an overhaul of tired and overcrowded train services when a new contract is awarded in 2018.

In our latest research, Arriva Trains Wales passengers told us what they wanted to see as part of their future service.

Passengers’ top priorities for the next operator include more seats and more space to deal with overcrowding, a more punctual and reliable service and new trains. Passengers say they find current facilities and stations outdated and in need of investment.

Passengers do however rate their local staff highly and see them as generally friendly, helpful and approachable. We’re now calling on the next operator to build on this good relationship local staff have with passengers to develop a more positive image of the new service and operator.

Passengers would like to see Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government, Network Rail and the next operator of the Wales and Borders rail service put forward a clear plan to address these issues. The current Arriva Trains Wales franchise was contracted on a ‘zero growth’ basis without the investment needed to cope with the surge in the number of passengers. Passengers must see a commitment to investment from the new service to meet growing demand and expectations for improved quality across the network.

What passengers say

The following quotes from passengers in our focus groups outline some of the key areas for improvement for the next rail service:

“Arriva trains seem quite grubby and old and they are just rundown.” Frequent Swansea leisure passenger

“The conductors are always helpful if you want to know where to change trains, what platform you want or if you want directions…They do go the extra mile.” Frequent Machynlleth leisure passenger

“I’m just fed up and dejected. It’s like everyday there’s something that happens and there’s nothing we can do about it. I need to get to work but I have to put up with just constant delays and disruptions.” Frequent Llandudno commuter

“The man at the ticket office at the station is great. He gives me advice on all sorts like what ticket I can buy and how much those cost.” Leisure passenger

Reacting to the findings of the report our Chief Executive Anthony Smith said:

“Many passengers in Wales are currently travelling on trains well past their sell-by date. Older trains, carrying more passengers than the number of seats available, makes for an uncomfortable journey. Passengers deserve better.

“Persistent delays to services on parts of the current Arriva Trains Wales network have diminished the expectations of passengers. It’s important that the next operator and Network Rail get the basics right to rebuild trust with passengers.

“The competition for the next Wales and Borders operator provides a great opportunity to get a good deal for passengers. Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government and the next Wales and Borders operator need to listen to passengers and take action to improve future services.”

What next?

Transport Focus will now work with Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport and to ensure future services reflect passengers’ needs and help prospective bidders propose ambitious and high-quality proposals.

The future of the Wales and Borders rail service: what passengers want report, can be found here.

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