Posted: Fri 23rd Nov 2018

Transport for Wales rail confusion – PR company say ‘Wrexham – Bidston services will be trains, not buses’ but public info service says some buses will run

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Nov 23rd, 2018

Transport for Wales is currently providing conflicting information on the train situation next week to those in North Wales using the Wrexham to Bidston route.

Rail customers are being advised that current service disruption and timetable changes caused by damaged trains will continue throughout next week (commencing 26 November). Yesterday a TfW public update appeared that stated all trains will be replaced by a bus on the Wrexham Bidston, route with a link to a bus timetable, but the update and documents vanished yesterday evening.

We have been battling to get details from TfW Rail this week on a range of questions, including on what is happening next week, and have kindly been provided with a statement late this afternoon (4:50pm) by TfW’s PR company that emphasises at the top (in red) “Wrexham – Bidston services will be trains, not buses.”

The statement sent says: “A revised timetable featuring many replacement bus services is in place on certain routes throughout the rail network and customers are strongly advised to check before they travel.”

At the time of writing visiting the TfW journey updates page there is an amended timetable alert showing for the route.

Clicking the link takes you to the familiar site with a TfW subpage. There are two areas of relevant updates, the first being the header message:

That link takes you to this Overview PDF that notes that a two hourly service will take place at times with a bus replacement service in lieu of cancelled trains.

Further down the page there are ‘all routes’ information, at the point of access last updated today at 5:24pm.

The two PDFs are the same overview document as copied above from the header of the page, and a Wrexham – Bidston specific document. The latter contains the bus timetables and bus stop information from the 26th November – indicating there will be a mix of trains and buses covering the route.

Earlier today the Journey Check system via TfW was down:

Recently we have had a range of information regarding the issues with trains in north east Wales and attempted to get comment, and fact check, elements of it to TfW including:

– We noted the ‘good service’ on all Valley and Cardiff lines – with the Caerphilly to Cardiff service running every 15 mins using the same Class 150 diesel multiple-unit trains as used on the Wrexham to Bidston line which has been reduced to just one train and a 2 hourly service.

– We noted units are regularly taken from the Wrexham/Bidston line and the service reduced when there are key events happening in Cardiff, with it appearing the South Wales lines are benefiting at the expense of of TfW customers in Wrexham and Flintshire.

– We enquired if the replacement bus service not being wheelchair friendly, and taking 2 hours, is acceptable.

– We asked when a second train will be reinstated on the Wrexham to Bidston line.

– We noted the main Class150 maintenance site in Cardiff, under Arriva, a second site in Crewe was online – and asked if the site in use now.

We have had no response.

In the statement we have been sent TfW say: “Ongoing issues associated with recent storms in combination with ageing trains have led to an unprecedented number, around a third, of trains being out of service, and this has meant that reduced services are running across the network. Many services have been amended and priority given to the areas of greatest need.

“Continued problems resulting from damage to wheels caused by seasonal conditions means that a high number of trains are currently undergoing repair at Transport for Wales depots, where engineers are working around the clock.

“We regret these significant changes and inconvenience caused. Public safety is our first priority in the current circumstances.”

A statement has also been provided from Colin Lea, Customer Experience Director for Transport for Wales Rail Services, who said: “We are committed to delivering the best possible service for passengers and we apologise for the short notice changes to services and reduced number of trains in operation.

“Safety is out top priority and many of our trains are too damaged to run. This means we have around 20 less trains available to us than normal. Progress is being made and we have sent trains away to other parts of the UK for repair, plus running our depot repair equipment around the clock with staff working overtime through the night. This equipment, which we inherited from the previous operator, is however 33 years old and is not as effective as more modern kit.

“The scale of the situation means that we do not expect to be able to return to the normal level of service for a further two to three weeks. As trains are repaired they will of course be returned to use immediately. Wherever possible, we aim to provide bus alternatives to train services where the shortage of trains it most affected, and enable tickets to be used on other public transport providers and alternative train operators. We thank them for their help in this difficult situation.

“Ahead of autumn next year, we have committed to invest in additional and better trains, more modern depot repair equipment and also in technology to help when train wheels slide on the rails (a form of anti-lock braking). We remain resolutely focused on delivering the best possible service for passengers today, whilst planning for a better future and transformation in time.”

On Tuesday we wrote “Transport for Wales apologises to South Walians – train ‘fiasco’ affecting local services too” where TfW ran full page paper adverts to say sorry in the Cardiff based national newspaper of Wales. The article also contains a first hand account from one local reader of this website who works for the emergency services in north east wales and their experiences of the Wrexham – Bidston line this week.

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