Brand-new trains have arrived in Wales that Transport for Wales say will herald a new era of transformational train travel – including more capacity and improved services
TfW is investing £800 million in new trains for the Wales and borders network – with the first two brand new trains from train manufacturer Stadler being delivered to the TfW depot at Canton, in Cardiff, for testing.
The new Class 231 FLIRT trains arrived in Wales from Switzerland and are the first of 35 to be delivered over the next 24 months from Stadler.
The FLIRTs will be a key part of the South Wales Metro, the three quarters of billion-pound transformational project being delivered by TfW, providing more capacity and more frequent services that will be greener for the environment.
Through working with train manufacturers Stadler and CAF, TfW is investing a total of £800 million into brand new trains that will begin to run on the network for customers next year.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said: “The new vehicles are a transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing across South Wales offering greater capacity, more frequent services with improved facilities encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said: “The arrival of these brand-new trains is another major milestone for TfW and signifies another step forward on our transformational programme to deliver a transport network that the people of Wales can be proud of.
“We’re investing £800 million into new trains that will provide more capacity on our network, they will have more and improved seating, provide air conditioning, power sockets and passenger information screens with up-to-the- minute travel information. The customer is at the heart of our planning at TfW and these trains will have more space for bikes, people with limited mobility and pushchairs.
“People will now start to see some of our new trains being tested on our network and we’re looking forward to seeing the first new units enter service for customers next year.”
Sandro Muster, Project Manager for Stadler, said: “The arrival of the first unit in Cardiff is a momentous occasion for everyone involved in the project. Not only Stadler, but our client, Transport for Wales, and above all, the people who will soon be travelling on them. Passengers will notice a massive difference in the ride quality, the comfort and the attention to detail.
“We will now embark on an extensive programme of testing to ensure that they are ready for commercial service. Every aspect of the train, from their on-board features to energy consumption trials, noise levels and signalling, will be scrutinised rigorously.”
(Lead image: Transport for Wales)
Passengers told not to travel by rail on strike days and to expect further disruption
Transport for Wales (TfW) is advising customers not to travel by train on 21, 23 and 25 June, with the majority of their rail services suspended as a result of industrial action resulting from the dispute between rail union RMT and Network Rail.
Due to the wider disruption caused, they’re also advising customers to only travel by rail if essential for 20, 22, 24 and 26 June.
TfW is not in dispute with RMT, but the industrial action means they are unable to operate rail services on Network Rail infrastructure.
The only services running on 21 and 23 June will be a reduced service between Radyr and Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil, with replacement bus services between Radyr and Cardiff Central.
On 25 June, this will be reduced further to services between Radyr and Treherbert, Aberdare and Pontypridd, with replacement buses in operation between Radyr and Cardiff Central, and between Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil due to the ongoing transformation work for the South Wales Metro.
All other services will be suspended, as signalling and other infrastructure work is managed by Network Rail, who are impacted by the industrial action.
There is also expected to be disruption on the days prior and after the industrial action, with early morning services in particular likely to be affected. Trains are also expected to be extremely busy throughout the entire week.
As a result, TfW is advising that customers only make essential journeys by train on 20, 22, 24 and 26 June, and not to travel at all by train on 21, 23 and 25 June.
Customers with existing non-season tickets valid for travel from Tuesday 21 June to Saturday 25 June can use those tickets anytime between Monday 20 June and Monday 27 June. Alternatively, TfW say customers can claim a full refund, with no admin fee charged. Season ticket holders can apply for compensation via Delay Repay.
In the meantime, TfW has suspended sales of Advance tickets for the first three strike dates in order to minimise the number of people disrupted. Customers are advised to continue to check the TfW or Traveline websites, and those of other operators, for updates.
Steve Montgomery, Chair of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “These strikes will affect the millions of people who use the train each day, including key workers, students with exams, those who cannot work from home, holidaymakers and those attending important business and leisure events.
“Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant disruption will be inevitable and some parts of the network will not have a service, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check their train times.
“Taxpayers have provided the equivalent of about £600 per household since covid and passenger numbers are still only at around 75% of pre pandemic levels. We need to bring rail up to date so that we attract more people back and take no more than our fair share from the public purse.
“We ask the RMT’s leadership to call off these damaging strikes and continue talks to reach a deal that is fair to staff and taxpayers, and which secures a bright, long-term future of our railways.”
(Lead image: Transport for Wales)
Wales to face rail disruption after union sets strike dates
The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced strike action will take place on Tuesday 21 June, Thursday 23 June and Saturday 25 June, which will significantly disrupt the rail network, including in Wales.
Train operator, Transport for Wales (TfW) say they are not in dispute with RMT, however, the industrial action resulting from the dispute between RMT and Network Rail mean they will be unable to operate rail services on Network Rail infrastructure.
The majority of rail services across the Wales and Borders network will be suspended, with the exception of services on the Core Valley Lines (CVL) north of Radyr in South Wales.
There will be services to and from Radyr to Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil (reduced to an hourly service in each direction), with a bus service connection to Cardiff Central Station. TfW say they expect these services to be very busy.
There will be no services on the CVL routes to Rhymney, Coryton, Cardiff Bay and the City Line as signalling for those lines is operated by Network Rail.
There is also expected to be disruption on the days prior and after the industrial action.
In a statement, Transport for Wales said: “Customers with existing tickets for travel from Monday 20th June to Sunday 26th June can use those tickets anytime between now and the 20th. Alternatively, customers may claim a full refund by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
“In the meantime, we are suspending sales of Advance tickets for the first three strike dates to minimise the number of people disrupted. Customers should continue to check our website, and the websites of other operators, for updates.”
Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: “We continue to meet with our trades unions to discuss their pay concerns and we’re doing everything we can to avoid strike action on the railway. We know that the cost of living has increased and we want to give our people a pay rise, but the RMT must recognise we are a public body and any pay increase has to be affordable for taxpayers and passengers.
“Travel habits have changed forever and the railway must change as well. We cannot expect to take more than our fair share of public funds, and so we must modernise our industry to put it on a sound financial footing for the future. Failure to modernise will only lead to industry decline and more job losses in the long run.
“There are a few weeks until the first strike is planned. We will use this time to keep talking to our unions and, through compromise and common sense on both sides, we hope to find a solution and avoid the damage that strike action would cause all involved.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.
“We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1pc and rising.
“Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.
“Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, whilst fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This unfairness is fuelling our members anger and their determination to win a fair settlement.
“RMT is open to meaningful negotiations with rail bosses and ministers, but they will need to come up with new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways.”
Train passengers in Wales urged to plan ahead for Jubilee bank holiday travel
Welsh train operator, Transport for Wales (TfW) has issued a warning to passengers to check before travelling over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday, with rail services expected to be very busy.
A number of major events are taking place throughout the TfW rail network, including events celebrating the Queen’s seven decades on the throne, the “In It Together” music festival in Port Talbot, music concerts in Swansea and Cardiff, boxer Joe Cordina’s world title fight at the Motorpoint Arena, and the Wales men’s football team’s crucial World Cup play-off match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Warm, sunny weather is also forecast, meaning tourist destinations such as Barry Island, Tenby and the North Wales coast are also likely to see significant numbers of day-trippers visiting.
Passenger numbers for weekends have increased significantly in recent months, so further increases in passenger numbers will mean some trains across the network are likely to be full and standing.
TfW is maximising capacity and reinforcing this where required with supplementary road transport. There will also be an enhanced staff presence across the network to support customers over the course of the weekend.
Colin Lea, Transport for Wales’ Planning and Performance Director, said: “We continue to see very high demand for our services, particularly at peak times, weekends and during periods of good weather. All available carriages are in service and where possible, we’re providing supplementary road transport.
“However, our services remain impacted by the recent train collision with a mini digger near Craven Arms, which has taken a number of carriages out of service. The impact of this serious criminal act will however continue to be felt for some time.
“It’s now more important than ever to plan ahead using information our new website, our recently updated app or our social media channels. Passengers should consider whether they want to travel on trains that are likely to be full and standing, and use our Capacity Checker – an online tool that allows customers to see which trains are likely to have the most space available.”
(Lead image: Transport for Wales)
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