Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2017

Despondent rail passengers call for better services in Wales when new contract awarded

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2017

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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 new research out today, Arriva Trains Wales passengers told the independent passenger watchdog, Transport Focus, 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Passengers say they find current facilities and stations outdated and in need of investment.

On capacity and overcrowding the report says:

‘Passengers want to be able to get a seat, and having to stand often makes for a less satisfactory journey.

In places, and at certain times, they experience severe overcrowding where they start to feel unsafe. Sometimes they are not even able to board the train at all.

Issues with capacity are exacerbated by passengers’ perception that the current operator hasn’t addressed known crowding issues, or planned sufficient additional capacity for things like special events and seasonal demands.

The new operation should demonstrate how it will alleviate particular pinch points, respond to occasions like sporting events and offer a service that will cater for the needs of both tourists and local passengers.’

On punctuality and reliability the report says:

Delivering a punctual and reliable service is fundamentally important.

Whilst passengers feel that there is rarely severe disruption on the Arriva Trains Wales network, many feel ground down by persistent punctuality problems.

Even though the actual delays are usually small, being five or 10 minutes late day-inday-out becomes frustrating, and erodes passengers’ trust.

TfW should look to the new operator to deliver a service that people can truly rely on.’

On Services and quality the report says:

Overall, passengers would like to see the standard of service raised. Passengers particularly find the quality of the trains themselves to be poor, made worse by inadequate cleaning and maintenance.

There are similar issues at stations, where poor lighting and upkeep in places leads to concerns about personal security.

It is these factors that have helped fuel perceptions of the current operator being out of touch with the needs of passengers.’

This includes the longer-distance services, for example, South to North Wales and into North West England, where passengers find the journey to be long and slow, and the service sub-standard, compared to what they experience on other operators.

Passengers rate their local staff highly

Passengers do however rate their local staff highly and see them as generally friendly, helpful and approachable. Transport Focus is 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, 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 it needs to cope with the surge in the number of passengers the report says.

Passengers must see a commitment to investment from the new service to meet growing demand and expectations for improved quality across the network Trandport Focus say.

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, 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, Welsh Government and the next Wales and Borders operator need to listen to passengers and take action to improve future services.

What passengers say:

“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


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