Posted: Mon 8th Apr 2024

Introduction of a new Wrexham Bidston line timetable has seen ‘massive’ improvements say TfW

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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Transport for Wales (TfW) is celebrating a significant leap in service quality on the route between Wrexham and Bidston following targeted improvements and a revamped timetable introduced in December.

The new schedule has not only increased the frequency of daily trains but also markedly enhanced punctuality.

Over the first quarter of 2024, more than 80% of trains arrived on time or within three minutes of the scheduled time.

TfW has said it represents a “massive rise from 2023 where most months saw less than 50% arrive within three minutes of the expected time.”

Last summer, TfW published a 5-step plan it hoped would resolve issues with rail services on the Wrexham to Bidston line.

This followed months of train cancellations due to trains on different lines being taken out of service following a series of fires on Class 175 units, leaving TfW short of rolling stock.

Problems last year also centred around the reliability of new Class 230s which operate on the line.

The Class 230s are a fleet of five hybrid diesel/battery trains which use the bogies and aluminium bodyshells of withdrawn London Underground trains.

TfW purchased them for the Wrexham to Bidston line to fulfil a short-term commitment of increasing the number of services on the line, to eventually deliver a half-hourly service.

The trains were intended to come into service in 2019 but were blighted by delays due to the pandemic and technical issues.

Since their introduction on the Wrexham to Bidston line last year, engineers have worked to address the reliability issues, “with a funded plan in place to make changes which are expected to improve reliability further later this year.” TfW has said.

TfW has also introduced the new Class 197 trains to the line, “working in tandem with the Class 230 to ease the pressure.”

The Borderlands line, stretching 27 miles and connecting 15 stations, now operates trains every 45 minutes instead of hourly, adding an additional eight trains to the daily schedule.

This has allowed for more recovery time during the journey, and longer turnaround times at each end, meaning “more resilience and less cancellations.” TfW stated.

“It’s excellent news to see how these targeted changes are making a real difference to customers’ journeys,” said Colin Lea, Planning and Performance Director at Transport for Wales.

“Our customers and stakeholders have been clear in what they want: a regular and reliable service that works for them.

“Quite simply, what we were delivering last year was not good enough. So, we appointed a dedicated route officer for the line to look at the issues we were facing.”

The Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport, Ken Skates said: “This is great news. We appreciate this has been frustrating for passengers, but I am pleased that after all the hard work we are clearly beginning to see a significant improvement to this important service.”

“We will continue to work closely with our partners to keep a close eye on performance, so we can make things better for customers as the investments in new trains come on stream.”

Colin Lea added: “We will continue to work closely with our partners to keep a close eye on performance, so we can make things better for customers as the investments in new trains come on stream.”

The improvements have been well-received by the Wrexham Bidston Rail Users Association (WBRUA).

A spokesperson for WBRUA said the “service has certainly improved since last year and we are cautiously optimistic that the service will continue to improve as further modifications to Class 230s are complete.”

“However, we will continue to monitor performance and will seek reassurances that Transport for Wales will continue to work on improving performance going forward.”

“The WBRUA were supportive of introducing a 45-minute frequency as a way to improve performance, but we remain committed to ensuring that Transport for Wales introduces the promised half-hourly service, which would provide a step change in connectivity, allowing for better connections with services to Liverpool via Bidston and with North Wales Coast services via Shotton.”

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