Over £1 Billion spent, yet Transport for Wales fails to meet standards, Senedd committee finds

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The Senedd has found that Transport for Wales (TfW) has not met the expectations set for its rail services, despite significant financial investments exceeding £1 billion.

A report, published today, draws from extensive reviews and interviews with key stakeholders and indicates a range of persistent issues affecting the rail service provider’s performance.

The Senedd’s Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure committee has voiced significant concerns over Transport for Wales’ (TfW) performance, marked by high service cancellation rates and low passenger satisfaction scores.

Despite acknowledging the challenging phase of rolling stock replacement and the Core Valley Lines (CVL) modernisation project, the committee expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of improvement and the recurrent issues impacting passengers.

The report sharply criticised TfW for its lack of effective communication, particularly around service disruptions, leaving passengers stranded without adequate support.

The committee highlighted instances where passengers were left on empty platforms during the night, calling for TfW to ensure that all passengers have access to alternative transport or compensation to cover unexpected travel expenses.

Amidst these operational challenges, TfW is faced with the target of ensuring 95% of rail journeys are on new trains by the end of 2024.

However, scepticism remains among rail passenger groups regarding the feasibility of achieving this goal within the set timeframe.

The committee also pointed out that the provision for major events has been inadequate, with recent instances where fans faced difficulties due to poorly timed train services post-events.

The committee expects TfW to plan better for such events and provide timely and efficient service to accommodate large crowds.

Furthermore, the report criticised the Delay Repay scheme, suggesting a review to strike a balance between fairness to passengers and the operational realities of running a public transport network.

The committee also urged TfW to publish weekly performance data to improve transparency and accountability.

The Welsh Government and TfW have been advised to collaborate more closely with UK government officials to ensure adequate funding and strategic planning for future rail infrastructure projects.

Concerns were raised about the potential impact of the Great British Railways proposals and the need for a clear stance from TfW and the Welsh Government regarding these reforms.

In conclusion, the committee stressed the need for urgent and comprehensive measures to address the myriad issues plaguing TfW.

Recommendations included improved communication strategies, better management of service disruptions, and a rigorous review of financial and operational strategies to enhance the efficiency and reliability of Welsh rail services.

The next six months are crucial for TfW to demonstrate significant progress and regain the trust of Welsh rail users.

Natasha Asghar MS, Shadow Transport Minister, has labelled the findings as “damning”, highlighting the urgent need for TfW to deliver tangible results.

She said: “This damning report says it all, after Labour’s infrastructure investment has ballooned to more than £1 billion, the performance from TfW simply hasn’t been good enough.

“With TfW also being bailed out by the Labour Government for falling passenger numbers to the tune of £125 million, it is about time that Welsh taxpayers see a return on their investment.

“The Welsh Government must take on board the report’s recommendations and get on with delivering a transport infrastructure that hard-working Welsh commuters deserve.”

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